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Myers Lecture: Teaching Subjective Well-Being Ed Diener Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology University of Illinois Meeting: Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, Illinois, May 22-24, 2008. My Gratitude To. Carol and David Myers!. Happiness. Question of the ages:
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Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology
University of Illinois
Meeting: Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, Illinois, May 22-24, 2008
Carol and David Myers!
What is the good life?
One answer – Happiness
Science is starting to provide answers:
There is existing science, but also many unanswered questions
1. History of the field
2. Defining, measuring, methods
3. Psychological processes
4. National accounts of SWB
5. Benefits of happiness
6. Causes of happiness
To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
Work and income
Health & longevity
Happy people more likely to have:
A. Higher supervisor ratings
B. Organizational citizenship
Example: Helping others on the job
C. Higher income
Why might happy people earn more than unhappy people?
Dr. Snowdon with Sisters Agnes and Gertrude
1. Nuns autobiographies at age 22
Expression of positive emotions
2. Happy and less happy nuns living in same life circumstances through lifespan
How long do they live?
Survival Rate at Age:8593
Most Cheerful Quartile 79% 52%
Least Cheerful 54% 18%
Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen
Happy live about 5 years longer
(Oishi, Diener, & Lucas, 2007)
Sometimes “8’s” achieve more
Some “negative” emotions are
functional and appropriate
When is it better not to be too happy? When are negative emotions beneficial?
Every single one of the happiest people we studied have good social relationships
When can you change your level of happiness? When is inborn temperament dominant?
How much money is enough for happiness?
Can you have too much?
The individual bias in individualistic societies – happiness is within you only
oneself and others
too many things
When is happiness caused by your outlook and when is it due to what is objectively happening to you? When is each important?
Complete the Positive and Negative Thinking Scales (appendix), and score and discuss
Discussion: When and why is positive thinking beneficial?
Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology
The science of subjective well-being
Handbook of positive psychology
Sonja Lyubomirsky website
Happiness: Unlocking the mysteries of psychological wealth
Sandvik, Seidlitz & Diener, 1993
Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being, Psych Science in the Public Interest
Below are five statements that you may agree or disagree with. Using the 1 - 7 scale below indicate your agreement with each item by placing the appropriate number on the line preceding that item. Please be open and honest in your responding.
7 - Strongly agree
6 - Agree
5 - Slightly agree
4 - Neither agree nor disagree
3 - Slightly disagree
2 - Disagree
1 - Strongly disagree
_____ In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
_____ The conditions of my life are excellent.
_____ I am satisfied with my life.
_____ So far I have gotten the important things I want in life
_____ If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
_____ I quickly notice the mistakes made by others
_____ I often see the faults in other people
_____ I see my community as a place full of problems
_____ When I think of myself, I think of many shortcomings
_____ When somebody does something for me, I usually wonder if they have an ulterior motive
_____ When good things happen, I wonder if they will soon turn sour
_____ When good things happen, I wonder if they might have been even better
_____ When I see others prosper, it makes me feel bad about myself
_____ I frequently compare myself to others
_____ I think frequently about opportunities that I missed
_____ I regret many things from my past
_____ When I think of the past, for some reason bad things stand out
_____ When something bad happens, I ruminate on it for a long time
_____ Most people will take advantage of you if you give them the slightest chance
_____ I see much beauty around me
_____ I see the good in most people
_____ I believe in the good qualities of other people
_____ I think of myself as a person with many strengths
_____ When something bad happens, I often see a “silver lining,” something good in the bad event
_____ I sometimes think about how fortunate I have been in life
_____ When I think of the past, the happy times are most salient to me
_____ I savor memories of pleasant past times
_____ When I see others prosper, even strangers, I am happy for them
_____ I notice the little good things others do
_____ I know the world has problems, but it seems like a wonderful place anyway
_____ I see many opportunities in the world
_____ I am optimistic about the future
ALL WITH A KERNEL OF TRUTH
– which make life larger than just our own self-interests:
Measuring well-being for policy
Information beyond wealth
Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross Nation Product . . . counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts the destruction of the redwoods. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
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