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Lecture 12

PSYC 332 Lecture 12: PSYC 332 - lecture 12

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McGill University
PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

PSYC 332 – lecture 12 (2017/04/10) Distinguishing Different Forms of Well-Being Announcements  Class finishes at the usual break (4:15pm)  Final exam format: ~100 MCQs o 55% from lectures o 55% from second half – slightly weighted towards the second half of the course o 1 question from Winter, 1 question from Weinstein  these are the “more difficult” readings o 2 questions from Marcia, 2 questions from Baumeister, 2 questions from McAdams o Some essay questions at the end  immediate supplemental only read for students who fail the course (student will get a grade of C if they show mastery of the concepts) Questions of the Day How do personality psychologists think about well being? What is the one kind of change in personality that would have the biggest effect on our well being? What is well-being? What personality factors are associated with individual differences in level of well-being? (Stability of happiness seems to be very genetically based and not that changeable. Happiness  There are individual differences in well-being  You probably have some sense as to where you fall in a normal distribution in terms of your steady state of happiness (and where your close friends and family fall)  There are also events which can make us feel happy about our lives (transient happiness)  Prof laughs about the fact that his cats are only 3 and he thinks about how sad he will feel when they die (in about 17 years) Two types of well-being  Often these two can come together but most often, we have to sacrifice one for the other  Hedonic: Happiness, subjective well-being, think of all the negative and positive things if positive things outweigh negative things, then we are happy. The overall balance between the two. o Measured by positive and negative affect, life satisfaction o Subjective well-being  your own judgement about whether there is more positive than negative in your life  Eudaimonic: To live in accord with your “daemon” (soul, spirit, inner nature), psychological well being, true to yourself, authentic, open to growing and becoming more mature. o Not a focus on happiness but experiencing what life is giving you. o Are you living a meaningful and purposeful life? Are you living in a way that helps you develop? Prof’s anecdote Approximately 1 year ago, he was invited to give a keynote lecture in Toronto at the coalition of mental health for children. 500 ppl in attendance. He arrived on Thursday (day before his address) when the first keynote speaker gave a talk. He hadn’t heard of him but his name was Neil Pasricha (from Toronto). His talk was called “The Happiness Equation”. Normally, prof wouldn’t go to see another person speak before he had to but he is always interested in adding more happiness to his life. He thought the talk was amazing. Lots of energy, seemed authentic, told lots of stories. He decided to change the name of his talk to “The Motivation Equation” that night in addition to the structure  it went over well! Video Clip: The Happiness Equation  Neil Pasricha (TED Talk)  Parents were immigrants from the East  He grew up in Ontario with his little sister and felt they had a good life, they took many things for granted that their parents never did  Overall, he had a nice life  went to college, met a girl etc  2006 was a great year  got married in the wine region of Ontario  2007 was a great year  graduated from school, went on a road trip with his best friends, saw seals on the coast  2008-2009 were rough, not just for him but for everyone  Wars, ice caps melting, economic crisis, he was also having some personal problems o He and his wife had grown apart and one day, she came home from work and told him she didn’t love him anymore – very heart breaking o His friend Chris (went on road trip with him) had been battling mental illness for several years  Spoke to him on a Sunday night about a TV show they like to watch  Monday morning, he found out that Chris had committed suicide  He felt dark clouds surrounding him and knew that he needed to take action by focusing on some positive aspects of life  He launched a website  o The simple universal pleasures in life that we just don’t talk about enough  Getting free refills without asking  Being the first table to get called up at a buffet style wedding  Warm clothes from out of the dryer  When cashiers open a new checkout at the grocery store  Over time, he started to feel better and he started getting 10s then 100s and 1000s and millions of hits on his site  He won an award for the best blog in the world – at first he thought it was a joke (Webbie award)  When he got back from award show, he found that there were publishers interested in him putting everything into a book  The Book of Awesome (has been a best seller for 28 weeks)  He ended up writing 2 follow-up books as well + The Happiness Equation  he has seen lots of success Prof’s comments  We experience good and bad times.  He tells a redemption story about how he recovers – these are very compelling stories o McAdams believes redemption stores are associated with well being for Western cultures.  He started out by getting through his rough times by doing something distracting and positive which led him into a new career  author and speaker  He has a new wife and a child – he seems quite happy  We want to stay happy. This is healthy and adaptive but there is another way of thinking about well being  experiencing our loss fully and all the things that come in life along with processing that. Measurement of Hedonic Well-being  Also called SWB (subjective well-being) or happiness.  There is a standard way of assessing subjective and hedonic well-being o Ask about life satisfaction o How often in the last 2 weeks have you experienced positive emotions? o How often have you experienced negative emotions?  Reverse the NA score that ppl get and combine positive affect with life satisfaction  Life satisfaction + Positive Affect – Negative Affect = Happiness level  There is a normal distribution  It is possible to confirm and validate self-reports by asking others (looking for their agreement) o In general, ppl report accurately  Our standing on a measure of SWB tends to be quite stable even if we have highs and lows o In 2006, prof would say that Neil probably went from 6.5 to 6.8 on a 7 point SWB scale o There can be some movement but in most cases, within 6 months, we are back to our baseline  Happiness seems to be heritable  if you take twins and analyze them, the identical twins are remarkable similar in their level of SWB  about 50-60% seems to be hereditary.  50% of variance in happiness is fixed by genetics. 10% is associated with life events. 40% is under our control  So we definitely seem to have a set point and there is some variability around it due to life events (set point due to genetic involvement) Measure your happiness How happy are you? Sure, you may think you know but this little test will help you keep score. The satisfaction with life scale was devised in 1980 by the University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener, a founding father of happiness research. Since then the scale has been used by researchers around the world. Read the following 5 statements. Then use a 1-7 scale to rate your level of agreement. In most ways my life is close to my idea. 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. Scores 31-35  extremely satisfied with life 26-30  very satisfied. 21-25  slightly satisfied 20  neutral 15-19  slight dissatisfied 10-14  dissatisfied 5-9  extremely dissatisfied  They have found differences between countries but normal distributions in all cases Happiness Equation: 9 Suggestions  Neil talks about secrets to being able to increase your happiness in everyday life  These “secrets” are based in positive psychology  He described studies where they did very small interventions with groups of ppl then measured whether the interventions helped to change their feelings (negative vs positive)  Preface: Happiness  Achievement NOT achievement  Happiness Steps taken from Positive Psychology: 1. 10 min writing about good things that day (end of day) 2. 10 min meditation each day (end of day) – Neil and his wife do this each night together 3. Random act of kindness each day – ie. Opening the door for someone, letting someone into your lane when driving 4. 20 min vigorous walking.  Prof feels that these little things may have an effect over a short period of time but not necessarily long term  Given his expertise in motivation, he knows that most ppl cannot keep with these types of things  He also believes that even if you do these, you have a set point so you have to consider if you can actually increase your SWB over time more permanently  Still unsure as to whether or not these little “secrets” will make a real difference Sources of Hedonic Well Being  Personality o Genetics  associated with extraversion (positive affect) and neuroticism (negative affect) o 60% = genetics, 20% = error that we cannot explain, 20% left, only 10% of which is probably under our subjective control (according to Dr. Koestner)  Employment o Losing your job can have one of the most damaging effects on well-being o Can take up to 2 years to get over this  Relationships o Married ppl are happier than unmarried ppl o Those who are happily married are even happier o Relationships appear to be protective of SWB  Life Events o Negative life events: not that strong and tends to wash out over time. R = -0.20 with SWB o Studies have been done with lottery winners  within 6mo, they are back to being where they were in terms of SWB, it is not life-changing like we think it would be o A parent losing a child is a really tough loss, same with losing a spouse Study: Spinal Cord Injury Emmons, 1994  Took 40 wheelchair bound students (Cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury) and 40 matched controls (healthy)  They had been in wheelchairs for 9 years, paralysed from the waist down  On average, he found no difference in subjective well being.  Research suggests that within 6-9mo of an accident which leaves someone paralysed, they will recover their level of SWB  Only exception to this is is ppl are institutionalised  weren’t living a “normal” life anymore The Paradox of Age  Recent findings support the U-Bend We tend to be happiest in our early and later years. This may be due to heightened stress in the 20s, worry (family, career) in the 30s, sadness in the 40s (dreams aren’t going to turn out, parents might be dying) and decreased anger throughout adult years. Age 46 seems to be the low point. Ppl in their 70s report being happier than in their 60s and so on. Very interesting considering there are health concerns and friend dying. Measurement of Eudaimonic Well-being  Measured in a lot of different ways: o Whether there is a purpose, meaning, and self-actualisation occurring in your life  Self-actualisation is a humanistic concept which has to do with whether you have fulfilled your potential in terms of the way you experience your emotions, have developed your skills and relate to other ppl A Measure of Self-Actualization  Some people worry it relies on self-presentation too much.  The scale gets at self-direction, self-acceptance, emotional awareness, and trust and responsibility in relationships. o Being comfortable with yourself, your emotions and feeling like you can relate the way you’d like to with other ppl  It focuses on the development of the self. All of the items with “x” are reversals   Some studies have been done where they correlate this with the big 5  Correlates very highly with being low on N and high on social dominance  This is a little problematic bc self-reports of happiness and SWB are also highly related to social dominance and N. Weinstein’s description of Integrated functioning  There are three critical markers of integration/psychological maturity  Non-defensive processing of events and experiences (no avoidance or suppressions)  the healthy thing to do would be to stay with the sadness instead of running away.  Awareness: Open access to own emotions, motives, and values.  Autonomy: Sense of valuing and endorsing ones actions. You choose to stand behind the things you do in life. Distinguishing the two forms  98% of studies are done on hedonic wellbeing while 2% focus on eudaimonic and there are a few studies that include both  High positive correlations between hedonic and eudaimonic measures (they usually go together  high positive correlations ~0.6-0.7) o Most of the time, you don’t really have to choose between one or the other o There are, however, some events that push us to becoming aware that there are two kinds of wellbeing o Experiencing loss, difficult life circumstances  Neil  best friend committed suicide after Neil was the last person he spoke to  Everyone who knew the person wonders whether they could have done something to help  But they do show distinctive correlates.  Most importantly, difficult life events have different associations with hedonic and eudaimonic well being. Regrets, Happiness, and Maturity: The Role of Possible Selves King 2007  King believes that there is a trade off, some of us want to get back to equilibrium after experiencing a loss  Longitudinal studies performed o First group: parents expecting a child and were surprised that their child had down syndrome  Parents often have dreams for their kids and learning that they have a major disability it heartbreaking o Second group: couples experiencing divorce after 20 years of marriage  Getting divorced in your 40s or 50s – ppl can feel like they’ve wasted most of their life  Measured salience and elaboration of lost possible selves o processing of negative emotions, and explored how it made them feel and how it affected the life story  Measured happiness and eudaimonic well being.  Key findings: o If you tried to minimise the amount of pain you were going through, your hedonic level of wellbeing would stay higher than if you tried to process your pain  in short term, you could maintain your happiness o 1-3 years later, eudaimonic wellbeing was measured and those who hadn’t processed their losses were significantly behind in their level of eudaimonic wellbeing  less of a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, less self-actualisation  There is a trade off  Short term (bottle things up for hedonic), or long term (growing with eudaimonic)  It seems natural to avoid the pain of a loss and not think about it. We can keep our happiness a little higher by doing that but it risks gaining maturity and growth. Bruce from 49up  Recall: British documentary where they were following up with ppts every 7 years  They kept asking Bruce if he had a girlfriend and each time he would say no, until about age 49
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