PSYC 332 – lecture 12 (2017/04/10)
Distinguishing Different Forms of Well-Being
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.
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
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
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?
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
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 1000awesomethings.com
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
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
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
15-19 slight 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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
High positive correlations between hedonic and eudaimonic measures (they usually go together high positive
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 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
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.
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
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