Graham, C. (2008). The economics of happiness. In S. N. Durlauf & L. E. Blume (Eds.). . Second Edition. Palgrave Macmillan. The economics of happiness assesses welfare by combining economists' and psychologists' techniques, and relies on more expansive notions of utility than does conventional economics. The research highlights factors other than income that affect well–being. It is well suited to informing questions in areas where revealed preferences provide limited information – for example, the welfare effects of inequality and of inflation and unemployment. Despite the potential contributions for policy, a note of caution is necessary because of the potential biases in survey data and the difficulties in controlling for unobservable personality traits.
Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. (2008). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: Longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. a2338-a2338. doi:10.1136/bmj.a2338 Objectives To evaluate whether happiness can spread from person to person and whether niches of happiness form within social networks. Design Longitudinal social network analysis. Setting Framingham Heart Study social network. Participants 4739 individuals followed from 1983 to 2003. Main outcome measures Happiness measured with validated four item scale; broad array of attributes of social networks and diverse social ties. Results Clusters of happy and unhappy people are visible in the network, and the relationship between people's happiness extends up to three degrees of separation (for example, to the friends of one's friends' friends). People who are surrounded by many happy people and those who are central in the network are more likely to become happy in the future. Longitudinal statistical models suggest that clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness and not just a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals. A friend who lives within a mile (about 1.6 km)and who becomes happy increases the probability that a person is happy by 25% (95% confidence interval 1% to 57%). Similar effects are seen in co-resident spouses (8%, 0.2% to 16%), siblings who live within a mile (14%, 1% to 28%), and next door neighbours (34%, 7% to 70%). Effects are not seen between coworkers. The effect decays with time and with geographical separation. Conclusions People's happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.
Kashdan, T. (2004). The assessment of subjective well–being (issues raised by the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire). , (5), 1225–1232. doi:10.1016/S0191–8869(03)00213–7. This commentary raises conceptual issues related to recent efforts to develop measures of subjective wellbeing (SWB). Specifically, Hills' and Argyle's (2002) article on the development of the 29–item Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ), and its predecessor, the 20–item Oxford Happiness Inventory (Argyle, Martin & Crossland, 1989). Instead of assessing the structure of subjective well–being (SWB), items of the OHQ tap into self–esteem, sense of purpose, social interest and kindness, sense of humor, and aesthetic appreciation. The item content of the OHQ fails to differentiate the assessment of SWB from the predictors, correlates, and consequences of SWB. In contrast to published SWB findings with other measures, data are presented suggesting that the OHQ has artificially inflated correlations with those constructs tapped by the OHQ: self–esteem, sense of purpose, and social interest/extraversion. The operationalization of SWB by the OHQ is not based on relevant definition and theory and appears to invite nonrandom error into the study of SWB. The article concludes with an appeal for the use of more stringent conceptual and analytic approaches.
Hicks, J. A., Trent, J., Davis, W. E., & King, L. A. (2011). Positive affect, meaning in life, and future time perspective: An application of socioemotional selectivity theory. . doi:10.1037/a0023965. Four studies tested the prediction that positive affect (PA) would relate more strongly to meaning in life (MIL) as a function of perceived time limitations. In Study 1 (N = 360), adults completed measures of PA and MIL. As predicted, PA related more strongly to MIL for older, compared to younger, participants. In Studies 2 and 3, adults (N = 514) indicated their current position in their life span, and rated their MIL. PA, whether naturally occurring (Study 2) or induced (Study 3), was a stronger predictor of MIL for individuals who perceived themselves as having a limited amount of time left to live. Finally, in Study 4 (N = 98) students completed a measure of PA, MIL, and future time perspective (FTP). Results showed that PA was more strongly linked to MIL for those who believed they had fewer opportunities left to pursue their goals. Overall, these findings suggest that the experience of PA becomes increasingly associated with the experience of MIL as the perception of future time becomes limited. The contribution of age related processes to judgments of well–being are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved).
Held, B. S. (2005). The "virtues" of positive psychology. , (1), 1–34. doi:10.1037/h0091249. How have spokespersons for the positive psychology movement presented the movement to the public and to the profession of psychology? Moreover, what are the consequences for psychology of that presentation? These questions inform my assessment of the "virtues" of positive psychology, which I interpret in two ways. First, there are the ways in which the movement implicitly presents itself as virtuous, not least by constituting itself as a corrective to "negative psychology." Second, there are the ways in which Martin Seligman, in calling for a new and discrete scientific enterprise, promotes building "signature strengths" as routes to virtue and thus "authentic happiness." Alternative ways to conceptualize virtue and authenticity are considered, as are the epistemic problems that inhere in movements in general, and the positive psychology movement in particular.
The film, Pursuit of Happiness, shows the American Dream being achieved by the main character, Chris Gardner, by working hard and using his talents....
While a person can search and struggle their entire life for happiness, the truth of the matter is, that they will never be happy with what they have infront of them.
All that I claim for the recipes offered to the reader is that they are such as are confirmed by my own experience and observation, and that they have increased my own happiness whenever I have acted in accordance with them.
On this ground I venture to hope that some among those multitudes of men and women who suffer unhappiness without enjoying it, may find their situation diagnosed and a method of escape suggested.
Although in the moment of purchasing a new hot item can put a huge smile on your face, knowing that same item will bring you happiness in the future is not likely....
"The thorough investigation of personal strength and civic virtue will not come easily or cheaply. It can be the 'Manhattan project' of the social sciences, but it will require substantial resources. The positive social science of the 21st century will have as a useful side effect the possibility of prevention of the serious mental illnesses; for there are a set of human strengths that most likely buffer against mental courage, optimism, interpersonal skill, work ethic, hope, responsibility, future-mindedness, honesty and perseverance, to name several. But it will have as its direct effect a scientific understanding of the practice of civic virtue and of the pursuit of the best things in life" (Seligman, 1998b, p. 5).
This pursuit is conducted by all at a uniform pace, that of the slowest car in the procession; it is impossible to see the road for the cars, or the scenery, since looking aside would cause an accident; all the occupants of all the cars are absorbed in the desire to pass other cars, which they cannot do on account of the crowd; if their minds wander from this preoccupation, as will happen occasionally to those who are not themselves driving, unutterable boredom seizes upon them and stamps their features with trivial discontent.
The causes of these various kinds of unhappiness lie partly in the social system, partly in individual psychology -- which, of course, is itself to a considerable extent a product of the social system.
Fredrickson advances a new theory describing the form and function of joy, interest, contentment, and love. In her new approach, she rejects two former common assumptions about emotion: "I propose discarding two key presumptions. The first is the presumption that emotions must necessarily yield specific action tendencies" . . . and "that emotions must necessarily spark tendencies for action. Some positive emotions seem instead to spark changes primarily in cognitive activity, with changes in physical activity (if any) following from these cognitive changes" (Fredrickson, 1998, p. 303). "So, in place of action tendencies, I propose speaking of " (Fredrickson, 1998, p. 303). Whereas negative emotions narrow a person's momentary thought–action repertoire, positive emotions broaden this repertoire. Thus, positive emotions "prompt individuals to discard time–tested or automatic (everyday) behavioral scripts and to pursue novel, creative, and often unscripted paths of thought and action" (Fredrickson, 1998, p. 304). Fredrickson's new paradigm also may explain how positive emotions may act to regulate negative emotions.