Jumat, 29 November 2013
WHAT IS NOT RELATED TO HAPPINESS Before moving on, it will be helpful to mention some of the factors that research has found to be either not associated with subjective well-being or only mildly associated with it. At this point, let us get rid of some of the myths about what causes happiness. Money, Income, and Wealt The first factor that has not been discussed as a predictor of subjective weel-being is money, wealth, and income. Are people who have more money happier than other people? One of the most persistent messages of many societies is that money will bring happiness and satisfaction. If you ask people what they believe they need to be happy, one of the most common answers is "more money" (see Myers, 2000). This is not surprising, because in a consumer-based society, having more money is often seen as a way to increase happiness. Increased wealth allows a person to buy a better car, a bigger house, take more vacations, or pamper oneself in any number of ways. Personal wealth is also seen as a means to protect oneself and one's family from unexpected disasters and anxieties of various sorts. Therefore, money is seen as a way to status, pleasure, and security. Income and Subjective Well-Being Diener and Biswas-Diener (2002) note that cross -cultural studies indicate that there is a relationship between income and subjective well-being among various countries. Studeis have found thaqt the gross national product (GNPs) of countries are positively correlated with average life satisfaction at about .50 (Diener, Diener, & Diener, 1995). This suggest that living in a wealthier country and having more money tend to increase happiness. When the details of the studies are examined, however, this consclusion becomes a little complicated. First, these results do not apply to every country. For example, people in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland report levels of subjective well-being that are slightly above those reported in the United States. However, when calculated on 1991 U.S. dollars, an index of the United Stated index (see Myers, 2000). As a nation, the Irish were less well of financially, but they were just as happy as Americans. Second, within countries, once a person or family's income roses above the poverty level, then further increases in income do not substantially affect levels of happiness. That is, there is a strong relationship between income and satisfaction at lower income levels but an insignificant relationship at higher income levels (Diener, Diener, & Diener, 1995). Third, people who are very wealthy report being only slightly happier that other (Diener, Horwitz, & Emmons, 1995) Fourth, other studies done in the United States indicate that levels of happiness did not rise dramatically from 1946 to the late 1970s. This stability in average levels of happiness is in spite of the fact that personal income rose substantially during that time period. Some report even show a negative relationship between rising desposible income and "I'm very happy" reponses over this time period (see Lane, 2000. Fifth, one study found that increased salary levels over a ten-year period were not related to increases in self-reported happiness.Sisxth, studies done of lottery winners indicate that the initial happiness that comes after the big win does not last very long. Does This Mean that Money Cannot Buy Happiness These people win the money, and they are very, very happy. Why are they so happy, and why does it not last? Adaptation Processes One obvious reason for the increased happiness is that the winners now belive, even expect, that the future will ber much easier and more pleasurable. They believe that increased income will allow them to better meet various needs. In addition, people also expect that the future will now bring significant drops in anxiety, worry, and fear. In other words, expectatitons are extremely high that most of the difficult problems of life will be eliminated and, almost automatically, they will be happier. In psychology, a similar phenomena is seen in perception and known as adaptation level theory (Helson, 1947. When exposed to a certain level of a stimulus, we become habituated and adapt to that level relatively quickly. In order for us to notice a change from that level, we need to increase the stimuli. The amount of change necessary for us to notice a difference is called the just noticeable difference. Will Money Eliminate Worry? A second expectation is also important to the inability of wealth to predict happiness. Most people asumse that if they can only decrease the sources of anxiety, fear, and worry in their lives, then they will automatically be happier. It would be foolish to take that truth and say that money can reliably eliminate all worries and fears. Social Comparisons Another psychological process also explains the failure of wealth to bring lasting happiness. This is the idea of social comparison processes. As mentioned earlier, psychological research has found that when people are asked to evaluate their self-esteem-or in this case, their income levels-they tend to compare their lives to other perople's lives (either real lives or imagined lives). Rising Expectations One of the more consistent findings about money and happiness is that rising income usually stimulates increasing materialistic aspirations (Sirgy, 1998). Rising income usually translates in rising expectations about what the person "should" have or "needs" to have in order to be happy. It can create an ever-expanding hedonic treadmill where each financial goal that is met only leads to rising desires and expanding expectations for what one "really needs" to be happy (Brickman & Campbell, 1971) Gender: Are Men or Women Happier? On one hand, women repot experiencing and expressing all emotions both more frequently and more intensely that men. At the same time, it is also well established that women experience and express more negative internally focused emotions, such as depression and anxiety. On the other hand, men are vastly overrepresented in cases involving externally expressed emotions, such as antisocial personality disorder, angry, and impulsive behaviors, and alcoholism. In the end, the impact of gender accounts for only about 1 percent of the variability in subjective well-being among people. The good news is that neither gender is inevitably doomed to be less happy that the other. Age: Is One Age Group Happier that Another? What makes people happy varies by age. With advances in medicine and more emphasis on fitness, it is possible that physically active retirees may eventually turn out to be one of the happinest and most satisfied of all age groups. Race and Ethnicity When questions turn to differences in subjective well-being among culture, the answers become complex very quickly. Briefly, however, subjective well-being in all cultures appears to be related to how well people believe they are achieving the things they value. Because people in different cultures can differ in what they velue, paths to well-being also differ among cultures. For instance, Latino cultures tent to place a high value on interpersonal reciprocity and building strong emotional family ties. Therefore, how people go about pursuing well-being can be somewhat different in different culture. Education and Climate A note for anyone who has dreamed of escaping to a tropical island: studies have shown that climate does not seriously affect levels of happiness and satisfaction. Will changes in the weather can cause variations in daily mood, they do not significantly determine long-term well-being.