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Myers Lecture 2008 APS


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Title: Myers Lecture 2008 APS

Myers Lecture Teaching Subjective
Well-Being Ed Diener Smiley Distinguished
Professor of Psychology University of
Illinois Meeting Association for
Psychological Science, Chicago, Illinois, May
22-24, 2008
My Gratitude To
  • Carol and David Myers!

  • Question of the ages
  • What is the good life?
  • One answer Happiness
  • Science is starting to provide answers
  • What is happiness?
  • Is it good to possess?
  • What cuases it?

Exciting, Important Scientific Area!
  • Possibly the most important thing you can teach
    students about their lives
  • Involves material from all of psychology
    cognitive, bio, clinical, developmental, et
  • Great for class discussions
  • There is existing science, but also many
    unanswered questions

Educational Levels
  • High School
  • Undergrad modules
  • 1 to 5 lectures for larger courses -- Intro,
    social, developmental, cognitive, etc.
  • Focused undergraduate course
  • SWB, adjustment, positive psychology
  • Graduate seminar

Resources Ed Diener website http//www.psych.uiuc
.edu/ediener/ E. Diener R.
Biswas-Diener Happiness book 2008
  • Wiley/Blackwell
  • (Sept., 2008)

Interesting Studies!
  • There are lots of fun studies
  • Nun study
  • Colonoscopy memory
  • And
  • There are lots of open research questions
  • E.G., When is happiness beneficial?

Major Happiness Topics
  • 1. History of the field
  • 2. Defining, measuring, methods
  • 3. Psychological processes
  • 4. National accounts of SWB
  • 5. Benefits of happiness
  • 6. Causes of happiness

Is Happiness Desirable?
Flauberts Error
  • To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are
    three requirements for happiness, though if
    stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
  • Gustave Flaubert

Dalai Lama
  • Stupid
  • Happiness

2. Benefits of Positive SWB
  • Social relationships
  • Work and income
  • Health longevity
  • Societal benefits
  • Causal direction?
  • Longitudinal, lab experiments, quasi-experiments

Social Benefits
  • Happy people more likely to have
  • Self-confidence, leadership
  • More friends
  • Warmth, sociability

Work Success
  • A. Higher supervisor ratings
  • B. Organizational citizenship
  • Example Helping others on the job
  • C. Higher income

College Entry Cheerfulness, and Income 19 years
later Diener, Nickerson, Lucas, Sandvik
Example Student Discussion
  • Why might happy people earn more than unhappy

Health Longevity The Nun Study
  • Dr. Snowdon with Sisters Agnes and Gertrude

Longevity The Nun Study Danner, Snowden,
Friesen, U Kentucky
  • 1. Nuns autobiographies at age 22
  • Expression of positive emotions
  • 2. Happy and less happy nuns living in same life
    circumstances through lifespan
  • How long do they live?

Longevity in The Nun Study
Survival Rate at Age 85 93 Most Cheerful
Quartile 79 52 Least Cheerful
54 18 Danner, Snowdon, Friesen
  • Happy live about 5 years longer
  • (Sarah Pressman)

Societal Benefits of Happiness
  • Volunteering
  • Pro-peace attitudes
  • Cooperative attitudes

Optimal Happiness
  • (Oishi, Diener, Lucas, 2007)
  • Sometimes 8s achieve more
  • Some negative emotions are
  • functional and appropriate

Example Student Discussion
  • When is it better not to be too happy? When are
    negative emotions beneficial?

3. Some Causes of Happiness?
  • Social relationships
  • Temperament/adaptation
  • Money
  • Society Culture
  • Positive thinking styles

1. Strong Social
  • Every single one of the happiest people we
    studied have good social relationships

GIVING social support People who help others
live longer and are happier!
  • 2. Temperament A strong influence on peoples

Temperament Identical (Monozygotic) Twins
Eds Daughters Clinical Psychologist and
Developmental Psychologist
Inborn Temperament
  • Identical twins reared apart are much more
    similar in happiness than fraternal twins reared
  • Heritability 20 to 50 percent of individual
    differences in happiness

Daily moods of a 20-year old
Example Student Discussion
  • When can you change your level of happiness? When
    is inborn temperament dominant?

3. Money
But Caveats About Money!
  • Declining marginal utility
  • Toxicity of materialism

Example Student Discussion
  • How much money is enough for happiness?
  • Can you have too much?

4. Society Influences our Happiness!
  • The individual bias in individualistic societies
    happiness is within you only

National SWB 0 10 Scale
Life Evaluation Ladder
  • Denmark 8.0
  • Switzerland 7.5
  • Canada 7.4
  • United States 7.2
  • Togo 3.2
  • Sierra Leone 3.6
  • Zimbabwe 3.8
  • West Bank 4.7

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5. Cognition Positive Mental Outlook
  • The habit of seeing the glass
  • half-full
  • Seeing opportunities, not
  • threats
  • Generally trusting and liking
  • oneself and others

Cognition AIM Model
  • Attention
  • Interpretation
  • Memory

Basic Cognition AIM Model
  • Attention
  • Gorilla basketball study (Simon)
  • Interpretation
  • They saw a game
  • Memory
  • Remembering vacation (Wirtz)
  • Remembering partner (Oishi)

Positive Cognition AIM Model
  • Attention
  • Seeing the positive beauty
  • Interpretation
  • Not putting a negative spin on
  • too many things
  • Memory
  • Savoring rather than ruminating

Example Student Discussion
  • When is happiness caused by your outlook and when
    is it due to what is objectively happening to
    you? When is each important?

Student Exercise
  • Complete the Positive and Negative Thinking
    Scales (appendix), and score and discuss
  • Discussion When and why is positive thinking

Conclusion True Wealth-- Psychological Wealth
  • Material sufficiency
  • Values, meaning and purpose
  • Loving social relationships
  • Spirituality
  • Physical mental health
  • Happiness and life satisfaction

  • You and your students can have a lot of fun with
    this topic!
  • It can help students live a better life!
  • You can review many psychological concepts to
    understand well-being

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Appendix Resources
  • Ancillary Materials

Potential Textbooks
  • Diener and Biswas-Diener Happiness Unlocking
    the mysteries of psychological wealth
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky The how of happiness
  • Tal Ben-Shahar The question of happiness
  • Daniel Gilbert Stumbling on happiness
  • David Myers The pursuit of happiness
  • Richard Eckersley Well good
  • Michael Argyle The psychology of happiness

General Scholarly Sources
  • Kahneman, Diener, Schwarz
  • Well-being The foundations of hedonic
  • Strack, Argyle, Schwarz
  • Subjective well-being
  • Eid Larsen
  • The science of subjective well-being
  • Snyder Lopez
  • Handbook of positive psychology

Some Names for SWB Research Searches
  • Ruut Veenhoven
  • Daniel Gilbert
  • Daniel Kahneman
  • Robert Emmons
  • Shige Oishi
  • Ron Inglehart
  • Eunkuk Suh
  • Richard Lucas
  • Ulrich Schimmack
  • Laura King
  • Frank Fujita
  • Robert Biswas-Diener
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Norman Bradburn
  • David Myers
  • Bruno Frey

  • Ruut Veenhoven World Database of Happiness
  • http//
  • Positive Organization Scholarship University of
  • http//
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky website
  • http//
  • Martin Seligman website
  • http//

Examples of Fun Studies!
  • The nun study (happiness and longevity)
  • Dunn et al. (buying for others better than buying
    for oneself)
  • Vohs et al. (priming money effects)
  • Biswas-Diener (slums of Calcutta)
  • Studies of lottery winners
  • Studies using physiological measures of SWB
  • Jeanne Tsai (what emotions are best)
  • Biswas-Diener (Maasai, Amish, Inuit)

1. History Topics
  • Greek philosophers
  • Thinkers and religious leaders
  • Utilitarians
  • Early research personality sociology
  • 1980-2000
  • Current research

History References
  • Diener Kesebir, In pursuit of happiness
    Empirical answers to philosophical questions,
    Perspectives on Psychological Science (2008)
  • Ruut Veenhoven (1984) Conditions of happiness
  • Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz, Analysis of happiness
  • Darrin McMahon, A history of happiness

Benefitsof Happiness, Resources
  • Lyubomirsky, Diener, King (2005)
  • Oishi, Diener, Lucas (2007)
  • Pressman Cohen (2005)
  • Diener and Biswas-Diener (2008)
  • Happiness Unlocking the mysteries of
    psychological wealth

Causes References
  • Diener, E. Psychological Bulletin 1984
  • Diener et al., Psychological Bulletin, 1999
  • Seligman, Authentic Happiness
  • Bruni Porta, Handbook on the economics of
  • Richard Layard, Happiness Lessons from a new
  • Veenhoven, Conditions of happiness
  • Furnham Argyle, The psychology of money
  • Frey Stutzer, Happiness and economics How the
    eonomy and institutions affect human well-being
  • Frey Stutzer, Economics and psychology A
    promising new cross-disciplinary field

Processes References
  • Alan Parducci (1995) Happiness, pleasure, and
  • Range-frequency theory
  • Robert Emmons McCullough (2004) The psychology
    of gratitude
  • David Lykken (1999) Happiness What studies on
    twins show us about nature, nurture, and the
    happiness set point
  • Diener, Lucas, Scollon (2006)
  • Adaptation limits of hedonic treadmill

Defining, Measuring, Methods
  • Defining
  • Evaluations of ones life
  • Types
  • Positive affect
  • Life satisfaction
  • Domain satisfactions
  • Low negative affect
  • Meaning, purpose, trust, optimism?

Defining, Measuring, Methods
  • Measurement methods
  • Self-report
  • Validity reliability
  • Informant report
  • Experience sampling
  • Biological
  • Facial, vocal, expression
  • Coding verbal material
  • Sandvik, Seidlitz Diener, 1993

Defining, Measuring, Methods
  • Methods
  • Cross-sectional surveys
  • Longitudinal surveys (panels)
  • Natural experiments quasi-experiments
  • Lottery studies
  • Negative income tax
  • Disasters
  • Lab experiments
  • E.g., moods and emotions

National Accounts of Well-being -- References
  • Diener Seligman (2004)
  • Beyond money Toward an economy of well-being,
    Psych Science in the Public Interest
  • Diener, Lucas, Schimmack, Helliwell (2009)
    Accounts of well-being for policy
  • Diener Guidelines
  • Diener American Psychologist

  • Diener Broad Theory and Review Articles on
  • Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being.
    Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.
  • Diener, E., Lucas, R., Scollon, C. N. (2006).
    Beyond the hedonic treadmill Revising the
    adaptation theory of well-being. American
    Psychologist, 61, 305-314.
  • Diener, E., Sandvik, E., Pavot, W. (1991).
    Happiness is the frequency, not the intensity, of
    positive versus negative affect. In F. Strack, M.
    Argyle, N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective
    well-being An interdisciplinary perspective (pp.
    119-139). New York Pergamon.
  • Diener, E., Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond
    money Toward an economy of well-being.
    Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5,
  • Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., Smith, H.
    L. (1999). Subjective well-being Three decades
    of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125,
  • Diener, E., Tov, W. (in press). Culture and
    subjective well-being. In S. Kitayama D. Cohen
    (Eds.), Handbook of cultural psychology. New
    York Guilford.
  • Kahneman, D., Diener, E., Schwarz, N. (Eds.).
    (1999). Well-being The foundations of hedonic
    psychology. New York Sage.
  • Larsen, R. J., Diener, E. (1987). Affect
    intensity as an individual difference
    characteristic A review. Journal of Research in
    Personality, 21, 1-39.
  • Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., Diener, E. (2005).
    The benefits of frequent positive affect Does
    happiness lead to success? Psychological
    Bulletin, 131, 803-855.
  • Pavot, W., Diener, E. (1993). Review of the
    Satisfaction with Life Scale.
  • Psychological Assessment, 5, 164-172.

  • Selected Diener Empirical Articles on Well-Being
  • Biswas-Diener, R., Diener, E. (2006). The
    subjective well-being of the homeless, and
    lessons for happiness. Social Indicators
    Research, 76, 185-205.
  • Diener, E., Diener, C. (1996). Most people are
    happy. Psychological Science, 7, 181-185.
  • Diener, E., Diener, M. (1995). Cross-cultural
    correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68,
  • Diener, E., Emmons, R. A. (1985). The
    independence of positive and negative affect.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47,
  • Eid, M., Diener, E. (2001). Norms for
    experiencing emotions in different cultures
    Inter- and intranational differences. Journal of
    Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 869-885.
  • Lucas, R. E., Clark, A. E., Georgellis, Y.,
    Diener, E. (2003). Reexamining adaptation and the
    set point model of happiness Reactions to
    changes in marital status. Journal of Personality
    and Social Psychology, 84, 527-539.
  • Oishi, S., Diener, E. (2001). Re-examining the
    general positivity model of subjective
    well-being The discrepancy between specific and
    global domain satisfaction. Journal of
    Personality, 69, 641-666.
  • Sandvik, E., Diener, E., Seidlitz, L. (1993).
    Subjective well-being The convergence and
    stability of self-report and non-self-report
    measures. Journal of Personality, 61, 317-342.
  • Schimmack, U., Diener, E., Oishi, S. (2002).
    Life-satisfaction is a momentary judgment and a
    stable personality characteristic The use of
    chronically accessible and stable sources.
    Journal of Personality, 70, 345-384.
  • Wirtz, D., Kruger, J., Scollon, C. N., Diener,
    E. (2003). What to do on spring break? The role
    of predicted, on-line, and remembered experience
    in future choice. Psychological Science, 14,

Additional References
  • Magen, Z. (1998) Exploring adolescent happiness
  • Frisch, Michael
  • Csikszentmihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.)(2006)
    A life worth living
  • Peterson Seligman (2004) Character strengths
    and virtues
  • Dalai Lam Howard Cutler, 1998, The art of

Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener et al.)
  • Below are five statements that you may agree or
    disagree with. Using the 1 - 7 scale below
    indicate your agreement with each item by placing
    the appropriate number on the line preceding that
    item. Please be open and honest in your
  • 7 - Strongly agree
  • 6 - Agree
  • 5 - Slightly agree
  • 4 - Neither agree nor disagree
  • 3 - Slightly disagree
  • 2 - Disagree
  • 1 - Strongly disagree
  • _____ In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
  • _____ 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.

Measuring your AIM
  • Negative Thinking
  • _____ I quickly notice the mistakes made by
  • _____ I often see the faults in other people
  • _____ I see my community as a place full of
  • _____ When I think of myself, I think of many
  • _____ When somebody does something for me, I
    usually wonder if they have an ulterior
  • _____ When good things happen, I wonder if they
    will soon turn sour
  • _____ When good things happen, I wonder if they
    might have been even better
  • _____ When I see others prosper, it makes me feel
    bad about myself
  • _____ I frequently compare myself to others
  • _____ I think frequently about opportunities that
    I missed
  • _____ I regret many things from my past
  • _____ When I think of the past, for some reason
    bad things stand out
  • _____ When something bad happens, I ruminate on
    it for a long time
  • _____ Most people will take advantage of you if
    you give them the slightest chance

  • Positive Thinking
  • _____ I see much beauty around me
  • _____ I see the good in most people
  • _____ I believe in the good qualities of other
  • _____ I think of myself as a person with many
  • _____ When something bad happens, I often see a
    silver lining, something good in the bad
  • _____ I sometimes think about how fortunate I
    have been in life
  • _____ When I think of the past, the happy times
    are most salient to me
  • _____ I savor memories of pleasant past times
  • _____ When I see others prosper, even strangers,
    I am happy for them
  • _____ I notice the little good things others do
  • _____ I know the world has problems, but it seems
    like a wonderful place anyway
  • _____ I see many opportunities in the world
  • _____ I am optimistic about the future

  •           Ed Diener is the Joseph R. Smiley
    Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the
    University of Illinois. He received his doctorate
    at the University of Washington in 1974, and has
    been a faculty member at the University of
    Illinois for the past 34 years. Dr. Diener was
    the president of both the International Society
    of Quality of Life Studies and the Society of
    Personality and Social Psychology. Currently he
    is the president of the International Positive
    Psychology Association. Diener was the editor of
    the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
    as well as the editor of Journal of Happiness
    Studies. He is the founding editor of
    Perspectives on Psychological Science. Diener has
    over 240 publications, with about 190 being in
    the area of the psychology of well-being.
            Dr. Diener is a fellow of five
    professional societies. Professor Diener is
    listed as one of the most highly cited
    psychologists by the Institute of Scientific
    Information, with over 12,000 citations to his
    credit. He won the Distinguished Researcher Award
    from the International Society of Quality of Life
    Studies, the first Gallup Academic Leadership
    Award, and the Jack Block Award for Personality
    Psychology. Dr. Diener won several teaching
    awards, including the Oakley-Kundee Award for
    Undergraduate Teaching at the University of
    Illinois. With over 50 publications he is the
    most published author in the Journal of
    Personality and Social Psychology.           
    Professor Diener's research focuses on the
    measurement of well-being temperament and
    personality influences on well-being theories of
    well-being income and well-being and cultural
    influences on well-being. He has edited three
    recent books on subjective well-being, and a 2005
    book on multi-method measurement in psychology.
    Diener just completed writing a popular book on
    happiness with his son, Robert Biswas-Diener
    (Happiness Unlocking the mysteries of
    psychological wealth), and is authoring a book on
    policy uses of accounts of well-being with
    Richard Lucas, Ulrich Schimmack, and John

  • There is an unmoving set-point for happiness
  • People over time adapt to everything
  • Money is not a significant correlate of happiness
  • A persons happiness is 50 genetic
  • Lottery winners are not happy
  • Those with spinal cord injuries have the same
    average life satisfaction levels as others
  • Happiness is all within the person

Life Satisfaction and 100 Percent Disability
  • Culture and levels of SWB
  • Culture and causes of well-being
  • Self-esteem
  • Culture and what is well-being
  • Pride

Spirituality Experiencing Broadening Positive
  • which make life larger than just our own
  • Gratitude
  • Love
  • Awe
  • Transcendance

Why happy are healthier?
  • Stronger immune systems
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Health behaviors (e.g., seatbelts)
  • Fewer lifestyle diseases (e.g.
  • alcoholism)
  • Younger genes (telomeres)

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National Accounts of SWB
  • Measuring well-being for policy
  • Information beyond wealth

Robert Kennedy, 1968
  • Too much and for too long, we seemed to have
    surrendered personal excellence and community
    values in the mere accumulation of material
    things. Our Gross Nation Product . . . counts air
    pollution and cigarette advertising, and
    ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It
    counts the destruction of the redwoods. Yet the
    gross national product does not allow for the
    health of our children, the quality of marriages,
    the intelligence of our public debate or the
    integrity of our public officials. It measures
    neither our wit nor our courage, neither our
    wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion
    nor our devotion to our country, it measures
    everything in short, except that which makes life

Cultural Influences Levels of Happiness Pleasant
EmotionsEnjoyment etc.
  • High Low
  • Honduras Pakistan
  • Panama Bangladesh
  • Costa Rica Palestine
  • Puerto Rico Tajikistan