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What are the benefits of happiness?
- Lyubomirski, King & Diener (2005)
- More productive and creative
- Make more money and have better jobs
- Better leaders and negotiators
- More likely to marry, have more fulfilling marriages and fewer divorces
- More friends and social support
- Stronger immune systems, physically healthier and live longer
- More helpful and philanthropic
- Cope better with stress and trauma
What is focalism?
- Schkade & Kahneman (1998)
- Tendency to focus on one event when we are feeling emotions about it and to forget other things that are happening
- We assume our feelings are driven by a single event in focus and not the interaction of other factors in our lives
What is emotional innumeracy?
- Dunn & Ashton-James (2009)
- The process of overestimating your emotional response to grand scale tragedies
- Not realising there is an emotional flatline
- (Used examples of natural disasters)
What is hedonic adaptation?
- The ability of humans to return to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes
- Money, expectation and desires rise in tandem and there is no permanent gain in happiness
- There are individual differences in this adaptation, however and some major life changes such as divorce or death of a spouse have been found to affect subjective wellbeing in the long term meaning adaptation is not an inevitability
What is immune neglect?
- Wilson et al (2004)
- The tendency to overlook the important value of coping processes, our emotional immune system
- This means we overestimate the intensity and duration of distress felt in response to negative events
- Hoerger et al (2009), people who reported greater use of coping strategies recovered more effectively from loss, but didn't foresee this when making predictions
What are inaccurate theories about the determinants of happiness?
- Gilbert & Ebert (2002)
- People do not have a good idea of what makes them happy and unhappy
- Photography students given the opportunity to change the photos to be printed but didn't think this would affect how much they liked them
- Those who had the option to change liked them more
How do genetic set points determine happiness?
- Some argue that happiness is a genetically related lifelong trait
- Possibly linked to the release and reuptake of serotonin
- Neve et al (2012) found that 33% of the variation of life satisfaction in twins could be accounted for by genes
- Those with longer, more efficient variants of the serotonin transport gene reported more satisfaction
How do circumstances affect happiness?
- Factors such as friendships, income, autonomy and parenthood affect life satisfaction
- BUT Bhutan ranks 82 places higher than Japan on the life satisfaction index (2014) despite having far inferior infrastructure, lower GDP, more conflict and inferior living conditions
Does money buy happiness?
- Yes, to some extent- Kahneman & Deaton (2010)
- Gave a wellbeing index to 450,000 US citizens
- Perceived emotional wellbeing increases with income up until $75,000 per year and low income was found to exacerbate emotion pain about life events such as divorce
- This could be because social comparison adjusts as income does
- See also the Bhutan/Japan example
Does neighbourhood segregation affect happiness?
- Yes- Ludwig et al (2012)
- Found that moving from higher poverty to lower poverty neighbourhoods leads to long term (10-15 year) improvements in adult physical and mental health and subjective wellbeing despite not affecting economic self sufficiency
- Could be because more poverty stricken neighbourhoods are more prone to racial segregation, high crime rates and low quality of public services
- People living in poverty tend to do worse in education and not have access to good well being role models
Does parenthood affect happiness?
- Yep- Nelson et al (2012)
- Parents experience a higher subjective wellbeing
- They evaluate their lives more positively than non-parents
- They feel better on a day to day basis than non parents
- They get more positive feelings from caring for their children then other activities
Why are mothers more happy?
- Focussing resources on a child increases wellbeing - Ashton-James, Dunn & Kushlev (2013)
- Parents reported more happiness and meaning in life when taking care of children than non parents
- Spending money on others leads to more subjective wellbeing than when it is spent on oneself- Aknin & Dunn (2013)
- students asked to recall a time they spent money on themselves or spent it on others and report their current level of happiness
What is self determination theory?
- Ryan & Deci (2000)
- Our motivation and wellbeing stems from social conditions that facilitate the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness
How does the way we interpret thing affect happiness?
- Chronically unhappy and depressed people tend to think of things in more negative ways, reinforcing negativity
- More happy people construe events in ways that enhance happiness
- This means positive life events do not necessarily make us more happy
- People perceive, interpret and remember things in ways that reinforce their dispositions- Lyubomirsky & Tucker (1998)
- There is cultural variation in construal of happiness- Uchida & Ogihara (2012)
- Westerners perceive happiness as a positive emotional state with high arousal and personal achievement whereas people in the east tend to think of it as a sense of harmony and calm
What is social comparison?
- The process of comparing yourself with others to derive happiness and self worth
- Happy people see others' achievements as good and motivational whereas unhappy people feel deflated and jealous
- People rated themselves as happier when performing objectively worse on a task provided they were told that others were performing relatively worse than them Lyubomirsky & Ross (1997)
How does self reflection affect happiness?
- Happy people are less inclined to self reflect than unhappy people
- Unhappy people are more likely to dwell on ambiguous, uncertain or negative events such as social comparisons
- This means they have fewer cognitive resources and so are more likely to negative social or performance feedback as they are distracted
What is the broaden and build theory?
- Positive emotions broaden peoples thought-action repertoires, encouraging them to discover novel ways of thinking and new coping strategies
- Fredrickson (1998)
How can behaviour make you happy?
- Behave like a happy person: commit random acts of kindness, express gratitude and optimism, savour events, commit to meaningful goals, foster meaningful relationships etc
- BUT Positive activity interventions are limited by:
- Variety: a lack of it leads to hedonistic adaptation and negative affect
- Dosage: counting blessings once per week increases wellbeing however 3 times decreases it
- More motivation requires greater frequency
- Placebo effect: belief in PAIs increases their effectiveness
- Effort: more effortful PAIs are associated with more attention being required and more wellbeing gains
- Motivation: pursuit of happiness via more self focussed means is associated with lack of wellbeing
- These positive moods, thoughts and behaviour are associated with greater satisfaction of needs for autonomy and relatedness (Boehm et al, 2001)