Four replicable findings have emerged regarding the relation between income and subjective well-being (SWB): 1. There are large correlations between the wealth of nations and the mean reports of SWB in them, 2. There are mostly small correlations between income and SWB within nations, although these correlations appear to be larger in poor nations, and the risk of unhappiness is much higher for poor people, 3. Economic growth in the last decades in most economically developed societies has been accompanied by little rise in SWB, and increases in individual income lead to variable outcomes, and 4. People who prize material goals more than other values tend to be substantially less happy, unless they are rich. Thus, more money may enhance SWB when it means avoiding poverty and living in a developed nation, but income appears to increase SWB little over the long-term when more of it is gained by well-off individuals whose material desires rise with their incomes. Several major theories are compatible with most existing findings: A. The idea that income enhances SWB only insofar as it helps people meet their basic needs, and B. The idea that the relation between income and SWB depends on the amount of material desires that people’s income allows them to fulfill. We argue that the first explanation is a special case of the second one. A third explanation is relatively unresearched, the idea that societal norms for production and consumption are essential to understanding the SWB-income interface. In addition, it appears high SWB might increase people’s chances for high income. We review the open issues relating income to SWB, and describe the research methods needed to provide improved data that will better illuminate the psychological processes relating money to SWB.
Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.
This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is shown to have favorable psychometric properties, including high internal consistency and high temporal reliability. Scores on the SWLS correlate moderately to highly with other measures of subjective well-being, and correlate predictably with specific personality characteristics. It is noted that the SWLS is Suited for use with different age groups, and other potential uses of the scale are discussed.
Diener, E., Lucas, R., & Scollon, C. N. (2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revising the adaptation theory of well-being. American Psychologist, 61, 305-314.
According to the hedonic treadmill model, good and bad events temporarily affect happiness, but people quickly adapt back to hedonic neutrality. The theory, which has gained widespread acceptance in recent years, implies that individual and societal efforts to increase happiness are doomed to failure. The recent empirical work outlined here indicates that 5 important revisions to the treadmill model are needed. First, individuals’ set points are not hedonically neutral. Second, people have different set points, which are partly dependent on their temperaments. Third, a single person may have multiple happiness set points: Different components of well-being such as pleasant emotions, unpleasant emotions, and life satisfaction can move in different directions. Fourth, and perhaps most important, well-being set points can change under some conditions. Finally, individuals differ in their adaptation to events, with some individuals changing their set point and others not changing in reaction to some external event. These revisions offer hope for psychologists and policy-makers who aim to decrease human misery and increase happiness.
Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological bulletin, 125(2), 276-302.
W. Wilson’s (1967) review of the area of subjective well-being (SWB) advanced several conclusions regarding those who report high levels of “happiness.” A number of his conclusions have been overturned: youth and modest aspirations no longer are seen as prerequisites of SWB. E. Diener’s (1984) review placed greater emphasis on theories that stressed psychological factors. In the current article, the authors review current evidence for Wilson’s conclusions and discuss modern theories of SWB that stress dispositional influences, adaptation, goals, and coping strategies. The next steps in the evolution of the field are to comprehend the interaction of psychological factors with life circumstances in producing SWB, to understand the causal pathways leading to happiness, understand the processes underlying adaptation to events, and develop theories that explain why certain variables differentially influence the different components of SWB (life satisfaction, pleasant affect, and unpleasant affect)
Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42(2), 207- 223.
This paper introduces and applies an operationalization of mental health as a syndrome of symptoms of positive feelings and positive functioning in life. Dimensions and scales of subjective well-being are reviewed and conceived of as mental health symptoms. A diagnosis of the presence of mental health, described as flourishing, and the absence of mental health, characterized as languishing, is applied to data from the 1995 Midlife in the United States study of adults between the ages of 25 and 74 (n = 3,032). Findings revealed that 17.2 percent fit the criteria for flourishing, 56.6 percent were moderately mentally healthy, 12.1 percent of adults fit the criteria for languishing, and 14.1 percent fit the criteria for DSM-III-R major depressive episode (12-month), of which 9.4 percent were not languishing and 4.7 percent were also languishing. The risk of a major depressive episode was two times more likely among languishing than moderately mentally healthy adults, and nearly six times greater among languishing than flourishing adults. Multivariate analyses revealed that languishing and depression were associated with significant psychosocial impairment in terms of perceived emotional health, limitations of activities of daily living, and workdays lost or cutback. Flourishing and moderate mental health were associated with superior profiles of psychosocial functioning. The descriptive epidemiology revealed that males, older adults, more educated individuals, and married adults were more likely to be mentally healthy. Implications for the conception of mental health and the treatment and prevention of mental illness are discussed.
Keyes, C. L. M. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing: A complementary strategy for improving national mental health. American Psychologist, 62(2), 95-108. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.62.2.95.
This article summarizes the conception and diagnosis of the mental health continuum, the findings supporting the two continua model of mental health and illness, and the benefits of flourishing to individuals and society. Completely mentally healthy adults–individuals free of a 12-month mental disorder and flourishing–reported the fewest missed days of work, the fewest half-day or greater work cutbacks, the healthiest psychosocial functioning (i.e., low helplessness, clear goals in life, high resilience, and high intimacy), the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease, the lowest number of chronic physical diseases with age, the fewest health limitations of activities of daily living, and lower health care utilization. However, the prevalence of flourishing is barely 20% in the adult population, indicating the need for a national program on mental health promotion to complement ongoing efforts to prevent and treat mental illness. Findings reveal a Black advantage in mental health as flourishing and no gender disparity in flourishing among Whites.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The how of happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want. Penguin.
Drawing on her own research with thousands of men and women, Sonja Lyubomirsky has pioneered a plan to increase happiness in our day-to-day lives–in the short term and over the long term. The how of happiness is a different kind of happiness book, one that offers a comprehensive guide to understanding what happiness is, and isn’t, and what can be done to bring us all closer to the happy life we envision for ourselves. Using more than a dozen uniquely formulated happiness-increasing strategies, The how of happiness offers a new and potentially life-changing way to understand our innate potential for joy and happiness as well as our ability to sustain it in our lives. Beginning with a short diagnostic quiz that helps you to first quantify and then to understand what she describes as your “happiness set point,” Lyubomirsky reveals that this set point determines just 50 percent of happiness while a mere 10 percent can be attributed to differences in life circumstances or situations. This leaves 40 percent of our capacity for happiness within our power to change. Lyubomirsky’s happiness strategies introduce you to the concept of intentional activities, mindful actions that you can use to achieve a happier life. These include exercises in practicing optimism when imagining the future, instruction in how best to savour life’s pleasures in the here and now, and a thoroughgoing explanation of the importance of staying active to being happy. Helping you find the right fit between the goals you set and the activities she suggests, Lyubomirsky also helps you understand the many obstacles to happiness as well as how to harness individual strengths to overcome them. Always emphasizing how much of our happiness is within our control, Lyubomirsky addresses the scientific how of her happiness research, demystifying the many myths that unnecessarily complicate its pursuit. Her recommendations are supported by scientific research. The how of happiness is both a contribution to the field of positive psychology and a gift to all those who have questioned their own well-being and sought to take their happiness into their own hands.
Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research, 46(2), 137-155. doi: 10.1023/A:1006824100041.
Using a ”subjectivist” approach to the assessment of happiness, a new 4-item measure of global subjective happiness was developed and validated in 14 studies with a total of 2 732 participants. Data was collected in the United States from students on two college campuses and one high school campus, from community adults in two California cities, and from older adults. Students and community adults in Moscow, Russia also participated in this research. Results indicated that the Subjective Happiness Scale has high internal consistency, which was found to be stable across samples. Test-retest and self-peer correlations suggested good to excellent reliability, and construct validation studies of convergent and discriminant validity confirmed the use of this scale to measure the construct of subjective happiness. The rationale for developing a new measure of happiness, as well as advantages of this scale, are discussed
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K, M., & Schkade, D. (2005) Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111-131.
The pursuit of happiness is an important goal for many people. However, surprisingly little scientific research has focused on the question of how happiness can be increased and then sustained, probably because of pessimism engendered by the concepts of genetic determinism and hedonic adaptation. Nevertheless, emerging sources of optimism exist regarding the possibility of permanent increases in happiness. Drawing on the past well-being literature, the authors propose that a person’s chronic happiness level is governed by 3 major factors: a genetically determined set point for happiness, happiness-relevant circumstantial factors, and happiness-relevant activities and practices. The authors then consider adaptation and dynamic processes to show why the activity category offers the best opportunities for sustainably increasing happiness. Finally, existing research is discussed in support of the model, including 2 preliminary happiness-increasing interventions
Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6(1), 25-41.
Different orientations to happiness and their association with life satisfaction were investigated with 845 adults responding to Internet surveys. We measured life satisfaction and the endorsement of three different ways to be happy: through pleasure, through engagement, and through meaning.
Each of these three orientations individually predicted life satisfaction. People simultaneously low on all three orientations reported especially low life satisfaction. These findings point the way toward a distinction between the full life and the empty life.
· empty life
· full life
· life satisfaction
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist, 55(1), 68.
Human beings can be proactive and engaged or, alternatively, passive and alienated, largely as a function of the social conditions in which they develop and function. Accordingly, research guided by self-determination theory has focused on the social–contextual conditions that facilitate versus forestall the natural processes of self-motivation and healthy psychological development. Specifically, factors have been examined that enhance versus undermine intrinsic motivation, self-regulation, and well-being. The findings have led to the postulate of three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness—which when satisfied yield enhanced self-motivation and mental health and when thwarted lead to diminished motivation and well-being. Also considered is the significance of these psychological needs and processes within domains such as health care, education, work, sport, religion, and psychotherapy.
Ryff, C. D. & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(4), 719-727.
A theoretical model of psychological well-being that encompasses 6 distinct dimensions of wellness (Autonomy, Environmental Mastery, Personal Growth, Positive Relations with Others, Purpose in Life, Self-Acceptance) was tested with data from a nationally representative sample of adults (N 1,108), aged 25 and older, who participated in telephone interviews. = Confirmatory factor analyses provided support for the proposed 6-factor model, with a single second-order super factor. The model was superior in fit over single-factor and other artifactual models. Age and sex differences on the various well-being dimensions replicated prior findings. Comparisons with other frequently used indicators (positive and negative affect, life satisfaction) demonstrated that the latter neglects key aspects of positive functioning emphasized in theories of health and well-being.
Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069-1081.
Reigning measures of psychological well-being have little theoretical grounding, despite an extensive literature on the contours of positive functioning. Aspects of well-being derived from this literature (i.e., self-acceptance, positive relations with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth) were operationalized. Three hundred and twenty-one men and women, divided among young, middle-aged, and older adults, rated themselves on these measures along with six instruments prominent in earlier studies (i.e., affect balance, life satisfaction, self-esteem, morale, locus of control, depression). Results revealed that positive relations with others, autonomy, purpose in life, and personal growth were not strongly tied to prior assessment indexes, thereby supporting the claim that key aspects of positive functioning have not been represented in the empirical arena. Furthermore, age profiles revealed a more differentiated pattern of well-being than is evident in prior research
Ryff, C.D. & Singer, B. (1996). Psychological well-being: Meaning, measurement, and implications for psychotherapy research. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 65, 14–23.
A model of positive psychological functioning that emerges from diverse domains of theory and philosophy is presented. Six key dimensions of wellness are defined, and empirical research summarizing their empirical translation and sociodemographic correlates is presented. Variations in well-being are explored via studies of discrete life events and enduring human experiences. Life histories of the psychologically vulnerable and resilient, defined via the cross-classification of depression and well-being, are summarized. Implications of the focus on positive functioning for research on psychotherapy, quality of life, and mind/body linkages are reviewed.
Seligman, M. E. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfilment. Simon and Schuster.
Drawing on groudbreaking psychological research, the author shows how positive psychology is shifting the profession’s paradigm away from its narrow-minded focus on pathology, victimology, and mental illness to positive emotion, virtue and strength, and positive institutions. Our signature strengths can be nurtured throughout our lives, with benefits to our health, relationships, and careers. The author provides the Signature Strengths Survey along with a variety of brief tests that can be used to measure how much positive emotion readers experience, in order to help determine what their highest strengths are. The life-changing lession of Authentic Happiness is that by identifying the very best in ourselves, we can improve the world around us and achieve new and sustainable levels of authentic contentment, gratification, and meaning
Seligman, M. E. P. (2011) Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Free Press.
This book presents M. Seligman’s new concept of what well-being really is. Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for fifteen years, is different—it’s about actually raising the bar for the human condition. Flourish builds on Dr. Seligman’s game-changing work on optimism, motivation, and character to show how to get the most out of life, unveiling an electrifying new theory of what makes a good life—for individuals, for communities, and for nations. Flourish refines what Positive Psychology is all about. While certainly a part of well-being, happiness alone doesn’t give life meaning. Seligman now asks. What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you to flourish? “Well-being” takes the stage front and center, and Happiness (or Positive Emotion) becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment—or PERMA, the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfillment. Thought-provoking in its implications for education, economics, therapy, medicine, and public policy—the very fabric of society—Flourish tells inspiring stories of Positive Psychology in action, including how the entire U.S. Army is now trained in emotional resilience; how innovative schools can educate for fulfillment in life and not just for workplace success; and how corporations can improve performance at the same time as they raise employee well-being. With interactive exercises to help readers explore their own attitudes and aims.
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