The extent of happiness • What percent of US adults consider themselves happy most or all of the time? • 80% happy most of the time. • 80% consider themselves optimists. • How accurate do you think these statistics are?
Some people are skeptical • Pessimists are better judges of reality. • Don’t look at the world through rose colored glasses. • Must be willing to keep an open mind. • Nurture optimism in ourselves and others.
Elements of subjective well-being • 1. Happiness: • --an emotional state. • --how you feel about yourself and the world. • 2. Satisfaction with Life: • --more global judgment about your acceptance with your life. • --more of a cognitive assessment.
How happy are we? • Time magazine poll (12/2004) • “Would you say that so far you have lived • --the best possible life you could have. • --a very good life • --a good life • --a fair life • --a poor life
How happy are we? Results. • Time magazine poll (12/2004) • “Would you say that so far you have lived • --the best possible life. 13% • --a very good life 37% • --a good life 33% • --a fair life 15% • --a poor life 2% • Good + very good + best possible = 83%
Last element of SWB • 3. Emotional stability: • --low level of neuroticism. • --lack of serious personality flaws. • Neurosis: “poor ability to adapt to ones environment, an inability to change ones life patterns, and the inability to develop a richer, more complex, more satisfying personality." (Boeree, 2002)
How do we measure SWB? • Most widely used scale developed by Ed Diener • “Dr. Happiness”
Can we trust self report? • Is person telling the truth • Or giving socially acceptable answer? • Diener found high correlation between self report and reports of family and friends of subject. • Joe and Joe’s spouse and friends. • Other’s perceive same happieness. • Also agreement with overt behavior of subject (actions and expressions).
What do numbers represent? • Not at all Moderately Absolutely true true true 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Rank ordered scale (ordinal data) not “real numbers” like height and weight (ratio data). But, after all, this is called subjective well-being. Even IQ is really a subjective construct.
Is SWB stable over time? • All have mood swings. • Some days better than others. • Get good or bad news. • Solution: Event sampling. • Csikszentmihalyi gave subjects pagers. • When pager beeps, have to enter mood and activity into a journal or mini computer. • SWB small changes but quite stable.
Changes in SWB • Life crisis will cause a dip. • Celebration will cause a rise. • But SWB quite consistent. • A few long term studies.
Aging with Grace • David Snowdon • Longitudinal study • Essays written when take their vows. • Those who expressed positive themes had high SWB at advanced age. • Low level of Alzheimer’s.
Yearbook pictures • Harker and Kettner (2001) • Compared college yearbook photos with SWB 30 years later. • Looking for Duchenne smile. • Duchenne did first studies on facial expressions (1862) in France.
Varieties of smile • Pan American smile • Duchenne smile
Varieties of smile • Duchenne vs. Pan American smiles • Correlates of Duchenne smile • Greater enjoyment • Broad smile that you can read in the eyes. • Seen in lower photo.
Smiles and SWB • Women with Duchenne smiles in college yearbook photos. • 30 years later: • Had happier marriages • Felt less stress • Had higher SWB scores. • Conclusion SWB stable over time. • Related to psychological wellness.
Psychological components of SWB • Ed Diener and David Myers • 1. High self esteem • Most important predictor of SWB • Western cultures value individual achievement and success • Eastern cultures value group success. • Self esteem tied to group membership.
Psychological components #2 • 2. Sense of perceived control. • Belief some measure of control over life events (in cases where possible). • Rutter: Locus of Control • Internal locus best. • Newer term: personal control: belief that you can effect outcomes.
Not always in control • Some occasions may turn over control. • Example: higher power in AA. • Relinquish perceived control. • Hurricane, floods, acts of God. • Events outside your control. • Wisdom to know when to depend on this belief.
Psychological components #3 • 3. Extroversion • Higher SWB in people who are interested in things outside themselves. • Extroverts generally have higher SWB. • Seek and enjoy company of others. • Doesn’t mean that all introverts are unhappy. • Introverts prefer join a few close friends.
Psychological components #4 • Optimism • “a tendency to expect the best possible outcome; to dwell on the most hopeful aspect of a situation.” • Look to the future with hope and positive expectations. • Optimistic explanatory style
Explanatory style example • Professor doesn’t return my phone call about writing a recommendation. • Negative: • professor hates me; he is ignoring me. • Positive: • out of town, will respond when he returns. • Make another call in a week.
Psychological components #5 • 5. Positive social relationships • High correlations of SWB with satisfaction with family and friends. • Social support and emotional intimacy. • Important for physical and psychological health. • Strongest external source of SWB. • Social contact better predictor than wealth, education or career.
Importance of family • Rare person who, as his life draws to a close, wishes he had spent more time with at work.
Psychological components #6 • 6. Sense of meaning and purpose. • Defined as spirituality by some. • Doesn’t have to be religious. • Belief that your life is connected to a greater good. • Your life will make a difference.
Man’s search for meaning • Viktor Frankl • Concentration camp survivor. • Belief that you can find a purpose in life even in terrible conditions. • To give up hope is to give up the will to live.