OCT 18

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13: OCT 18

Assigned

  • Argyle, "Causes and Correlates of Happiness" (20)
  • Diener and Suh, "National Differences in Subjective Well-Being"

In-class

  • Start SW2
  • Additional research from Schimmack

Argyle, "Causes and Correlates of Happiness"

  • Age
  • Education
  • Social Status
  • Income
  • Marriage
  • Ethnicity
  • Employment
  • Leisure
  • Religion
  • Life Events

Synopsis by major factor:

  • Age
  • The older are slightly happier, notably in positive affect. Some evidence that women become less happy with age. In assessing causality, we might need to acknowledge a cohort effect (older people are those who survive, hence not nec. representative of a sampling of all age groups). Older people are less satisfied than others with their future prospects.
  • Old people could have lower expectations, and hence their greater self-reported happiness might not be comparable to a younger person's self-reported happiness. (Consider Cantril's study that found older people more satisfied with past and current lives (less with future).)
  • Puzzle: objective conditions are worse for old people (health, depression and loneliness!), yet they are more satisfied. (Neural degeneration has got to be on the table as a hypothesis.) Actually, declining aspirations, "environmental mastery", and autonomy increases might help explain this. Also, old people participate in their religion more. A boost.
  • Education
  • The educated are slightly happier (on PA, not reduced NA). Effect weak in US. Data suggest the education effect is greater in poorer countries. Control for income and job status effects and there is still a slight effect from education. [From personal achievement? Finding enduring sources of flow and pleasure?] But income and job status account for most of the education effect.
  • Social Status
  • About twice the effect of education or age (could be seeing combined effect of both), but half of the effect is from job status. Greater effect for stratified societies. [How professors are treated in Italy, for example.]
  • Note 356: social class predicts a big bundle of goods that also have measurable happiness effects: housing, relationships, and leisure. Also, diff classes DO different things.
  • Income
  • Average correlation of .17 across studies. See chart on p. 356 -- curvilinear, with slight upward tail at highest incomes. (intriguing)
  • Steep relation of income from poverty to material sufficiency.
  • Diener found a stronger correlation when using multiple income measures (such and GNP, purchasing power indexes, etc.)
  • Bradburn pay raise studies in '69. (see cartoon) Inglehart studies in 90's: people who say their $ situation improved also report high satisfaction.
  • Famous Myers and Diener 1996 study: "In the United States, average personal income has risen from $4,000 in 1970 to $16,000 in 1990 (in 1990 dollars), but there has been no change in average happiness or satisfaction." Some evidence that happiness is sensitive to economic downturns (Belgium), some evidence of variation in strength of effect across culture.
  • Lottery winner studies may not be a good way to test income effects since you get lots of disruptions with winning the lottery.
  • Cluster effect with income: Income comes with host of other goods: p. 358.
  • Comparison groups and relative changes may be stronger than absolute income levels. (Note "pay fairness" increases income satisfaction. Gonzaga note.) Women's pay (358).
  • Michalo's "goal achievement gap model" p. 358: "whereby happiness is said to be due to the gap between aspirations and achievements and this gap is due to comparisons with both "average folks" and one's own past life (see figure 18.3).
Other Resources:
  • Kahneman and Deaton, "High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being"
  • Graham, et. al, "The Easterlin Paradox and Other Paradoxes: Why both sides of the Debate May be Correct"
  • Marriage
  • Average effect from meta-analysis of .14. Stronger effects for young. Does more for women than men, though stronger effect on male health.
  • Causal model: Married people have higher social well being indicators (mental and physical health). These indicators are independent factors for happiness. Marriage is a source of emotional and material support. Married people just take better care of themselves. Men might benefit from emotional support more since women provide that to male spouses more than males? (differently?)
  • Effects of marriage has a life-stage dimension to them. (figure 18.4) Having children has a small effect.
  • Reverse causation is a consideration, but hard to support since 90% of people get married.
  • Good example in this section of distinguishing between correlational data and causal discussion.
  • Construct for marriage: strong social and emotional support, material help, companionship.
  • Might be interesting to look at research comparing marriage to other types of social support systems. Why are people in your age group delaying marriage? Is it making them happier?
  • Ethnicity
  • Widely confirmed studies show that average happiness for US African Americans is lower than for US whites.
  • Mostly accounted for by income, education, and job status.
  • Interestingly, African American children enjoy higher self-esteem than white kids.
  • Employment
  • Studies of unemployed and retired help isolate effects.
  • Unemployed significantly less happy: "The unemployed in nearly all countries are much less happy than those at work. Inglehart (1990) found that 61 percent of the unemployed were satisfied, compared with 78 percent of manual workers."
  • Strong effects when unemployment is low; different ways of looking at employment effects (363).
  • Causal model: income and self-esteem account for most of effect.
  • Leisure
  • Relatively strong correlation: .2 in meta-studies.
  • Leisure effects observed in lots of contexts (social relations from work, adolescent leisure habits, even a short walk. Sport and exercise include both social effects and release of endorphins. Like religion, leisure activities have multi-faceted effects on happiness.
  • Flow is a factor. Comparisons of high engagement and high apathy (tv) leisure activities.
  • TV watching as a leisure activity. Predicted low SWB, but has some positive effects. Soap opera watchers!
  • Volunteer and charity work were found to generate high levels of joy, exceeded only by dancing!
  • Religion
  • The strength of religion on happiness is positive, sensitive to church attendance, strength of commitment, related to meaningfulness and sense of purpose (an independent variable). Overall modest effect, but stronger for those more involved in their church. note demographic factors: single, old, sick benefit most from religious participation. US effect stronger. (Why do protestants get more happiness from their religion than Catholics?)
  • Reverse causation: Are happier people more likely to be religious?
  • Causal model: Religion works through social support, increasing esteem and meaningfulness.
  • Kirpatrick 1992 study: self-reported relationship with God has similar effects as other relationships.
  • Life events and activities (especially on affect)
  • "A study in five Eu European countries found that the main causes of joy were said to be relationships with friends, the basic pleasures of food, drink, and sex, and success experiences (Scherer etal. 1986)."..."Frequency of sexual intercourse also correlates with happiness, as does satisfaction with sex life, being in love, and frequency of interaction with spouse, but having liberal sexual attitudes has a negative relationship." "...alcohol, in modest doses, has the greatest effects on positive mood."
  • Competencies -- Some other factors or attributes that might be causal. For young women, attractiveness, especially at young ages, has strong effect on happiness. Height in men. health (with causation in both directions). social skills predict happiness. health can be viewed as a competency: high correlation (look back at Bob and Mary comparison)
  • Note policy point: This article is from early days in the policy discussion. But the basic point has been the same: Why do we put so much emphasis on increasing GDP is happiness is affected by so many other things?

Diener and Suh, "National Differences in SWB"

  • With this article, income is once again highlighted as a factor, but now in the context of cross nation comparisons. The major issue here is, "How does culture and national grouping interact with perceptions and judgements of happiness? (Note problem of relation of national borders to tribe, ethnicity, and region.)
  • Methodological Difficulties:
  • 1. Measurement Issues -- gloss on "artifacts" as measurement problems. Example: different ways of administering a survey, moment to moment variation affecting results.
  • Wealth is clustered with other factors that predict H, such as rights, equality, fulfillment of needs, and individualism.
  • Transnational similarities (p. 435, in all nations most people are happy) might reflect some tendency to for judgements to be group-relative.
  • General validity concerns about self reports are offset by research using multiple measures.
  • Example of Russian / US student comparison, 437, west/east berliners -- second measure -- event memory bias -- confirms self-reports. Also, column B: mood memory
  • 2. Are nations meaningful units of analysis? Nationality predicts SWB in general and in sub groups (gender/age).438b
  • 3. Scale structure invariance -- non-technical version: what if the terms used in happiness surveys have different "weights" or relationships with each other and with happiness? Some evidence of scale invariance. (Note that a validated construct, such as LS/PA+NA, might be the basis for showing scale invariance. Cf to Gilbert.
  • Happiness Across Nations:
  • After accounting for measurement and methodological issues, there are real and substantive differences in well-being across nations. While wealthier nations are generally happier, there are complexities to the causal model. National income correlates with non-economic goods such as rights, equality, fulfillment of basic needs, and individualism (list at 436). These factors have effects on both SWB and income that have not been isolated. (at 441: real ambiguity about causal paths in this analysis: is it wealth or the correlates of wealth that are causal for happiness? Thought Experiment: the Nazi's won, but they really know how to boost GDP. Could you imagine the society being just as happy?
  • Some details: .69 correlate between purchasing power and LS-SWB, lower, but sig. correlations with affect.
  • The National Correlates of SWB (439)
  • Wealth and Economic Development
  • National wealth is a strong predictor of SWB. Overall .58. Per capita purchasing power, .61. Wealth .84.
  • Purchasing power parity chart: Note no increase in last 1/4 of the index.
  • Big hypothesis: Wealth is "clustered" with other happiness makers like schooling food water, human rights, doctors income equality.. 439-440. Acknowledges difficulty controlling for these variables.
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism
  • Individualism correlates with higher reported SWB, but also higher suicide rates.
  • Collectivists may be working with a different model of happiness or just a different attitude about its importance. Individualism is linked with wealth, so hard to separate effects. Note specific differences in valuation between individualist vs. collectivist culture. (442) Problem (I think): SWB is more salient to individualists.
  • Small Group discussion: Do you see the data on individualism and SWB supporting the idea that individualism (along with the political and economic culture is clusters with) is a better universal strategy for happiness or supporting the idea that individualist and collectivist cultures are pursuing different kinds of happiness?
  • Some non-correlates: homogeneity, population density.
Different models for explaining cultural differences are presented:
  1. Innate needs approach, Veenhoven, explains lack of growth in SWB in rich countries.
  1. Theory of goal striving, SWB relative to goal pursuits, which are different between rich and poor nations. Goal setting can be influenced by both universal needs, which create goals to satisfying them, as well as culturally conditioned goals, like attractiveness, or status goals. Relative standards come into play if they affect goal satisfaction.
  1. Models of emotional socialization, different cultures/nations social young to affect in different ways.
  1. Genetic explanations. (or deep cultural transmission)

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