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?:abstract
  • A sample of 222 undergraduates was screened for high happiness using multiple confirming assessment filters. We compared the upper 10% of consistently very happy people with average and very unhappy people. The very happy people were highly social, and had stronger romantic and other social relationships than less happy groups. They were more extraverted, more agreeable, and less neu- rotic, and scored lower on several psychopathology scales of the Min- nesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Compared with the less happy groups, the happiest respondents did not exercise significantly more, participate in religious activities significantly more, or experi- ence more objectively defined good events. No variable was sufficient for happiness, but good social relations were necessary. Members of the happiest group experienced positive, but not ecstatic, feelings most of the time, and they reported occasional negative moods. This sug- gests that very happy people do have a functioning emotion system that can react appropriately to life events. Investigations of very unhappy individuals, such as people with anxiety and mood disorders, abound in the psychological literature (Myers, 2000). In contrast, investigations of happy people are rare, and investigations of very happy people do not exist. This imbalance probably stems from clinical psychology's historic emphasis on pa- thology, coupled with the belief that understanding abnormal pro- cesses can illuminate normal processes. We have the complementary belief: that understanding "supranormal" individuals can illuminate normal processes, and that knowing how very happy people function might provide information on how to buffer very unhappy people against psychopathology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). We report here the first study of the behavioral and personality correlates of high happiness. In this study, we examined some factors that seem likely to influence high happiness: social relationships, personality and psychopathology, and variables (e.g., religiosity and exercise) that have been related to subjective well-being in correlational studies. In addition to examining how the happiest respondents compared with the average and with very unhappy respondents on these variables, we examined the patterns of necessity and sufficiency. For a variable to be sufficient for happiness, all persons with that variable should be happy (i.e., if X , always happy)- and therefore virtually no unhappy people should possess the variable. For a variable to be necessary for happiness, virtually every happy per- son should possess that variable (i.e., if happy, then X ). Thus, in these analyses, we examined whether there is a "key" to happiness—a vari- able that is both necessary and sufficient for happiness. A third purpose of the study was to examine the moods and emo- tions of the happiest individuals. Did they experience mostly euphoric feelings or only moderate positive emotions on most occasions? Did they experience occasional unpleasant emotions? If the happiest peo- ple never experienced negative emotions and were locked into eu- phoric feelings, the state might be dysfunctional because these individuals would not react to the events happening to them and would not receive calibrated feedback from their emotions. ()
?:appearsInJournal
?:citationCount
  • 1061 ()
is ?:cites of
?:cites
?:created
  • 2016-06-24 ()
?:creator
?:doi
  • 10.1111/1467-9280.00415 ()
?:endingPage
  • 84 ()
?:estimatedCitationCount
  • 2350 ()
is ?:hasCitedEntity of
?:hasDiscipline
?:hasURL
?:issueIdentifier
  • 1 ()
?:language
  • en ()
?:publicationDate
  • 2002-01-01 ()
?:publisher
  • SAGE Publications ()
?:rank
  • 17749 ()
?:referenceCount
  • 8 ()
?:startingPage
  • 81 ()
?:title
  • Very Happy People ()
?:type
?:volume
  • 13 ()

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