HappinessBackupClassNotes1-2012

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Contents

Return to Happiness

August 28, 2012: Class 1

First Class Topics

  • Course, Material, and Goals
  • Course Methods and web sites
  • Course website
  • Course wiki
  • Einstruction site - speech, surveymonkey.
  • A typical prep cycle for the course: read, engage, review, prep SQs.
  • 6 hours / week !
  • Grading Schemes
  • Ereserves - pdf print incentive day is coming - Sept 4th.


August 30, 2012

1. Introductory discussion and exercise on the nature of happiness.

  • Developing a list of descriptors
  • Analyzing the list
  • Example of theoretical reflection that can follow. Discussion of result, theory, and as example of method.

2. Sample Clicker Quiz (doesn't count)

  • Questions about registration?

3. Classical Greek Models of Happiness

1. The Greek Philosophical Models in Plato and Aristotle

Plato

  • Contrast the Symposium with the cult of Dionysius
  • Reasoning our way to the Good (Happiness). Symposium as purification ritual. bad desire/good desire
  • Object of desire is transcendent. (Reminder about Platonic metaphysics.)

Aristotle (note McMahon pp. 41ff and Aristotle reading)

  • end, function, craft, techne. Hierarchy of arts.
  • end vs. final end -- the universal good is the final end, not relative. sec. 6-7.
  • happiness as activity of the soul in accordance with virture (def., but also consequence of reasoning from nature of human life)
  • Section 13: nature of the soul. two irrational elements: veg/appetitive and one rational. Note separation/relationship.
  • Aristotle's extra conditions ....


2. The Greek Cultural Model
  • Connect of the culture with tragedy, appreciate of fate, happiness as gift of gods.
  • Dionysian culture


4. Philosophical Method.

  • what we did in #1
  • some reminders about argument.


5. Happiness Descriptors


  • Winning
  • Success
  • Clicking submit during registration and getting all your classes
  • Every day of summer
  • Meditating on a mountain
  • Picking fruit
  • Hearing a room of applause and knowing it is for you
  • Playing with a puppy
  • Skiing down a mountain
  • Sense of relief after completing something
  • Playing music at a house party
  • Dance parties


Some of these are in two categories: Life Happiness (H subscript L ) or State Happiness (H subscript S)

September 4, 2012

Haidt, Happiness Hypothesis, ch. 5

  • Major theme -- happiness as internal or external pursuit.
  • Buddha and Epictetus take a relatively "internal" path. Haidt suggests research shows this to be somewhat extreme -- there are things to strive for outside of yourself, happiness in the journey ("progress principle") "Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing."
  • Haidt's list of happiness makers and unmakers(correlates and major causes)
  • Adaptation, hedonic treadmill, set point theory, Bob and Mary comparison (87): relationship, meaningfulness. Bob's list more susceptible to adaptation.
  • Happiness Formula
  • H = Set point + Conditions + Voluntary action
  • understanding lack of adaptation for cosmetic surgery. what's shallow vs. what matters.
  • from 92f: Noise, Commuting, Lack of Control, Shame, Relationships,
  • "It is vain to say that human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it." (Charlotte Bronte, 1847)
  • Complicating factors
  • Flow and Seligman's strengths test www.authentichappiness.org
  • Comparisons and biases. Conspicuous consumption.
  • Schwartz maximizers and satisficers.

Schimmack, "The Structure of SWB"

  • Problem: How to explain independence of PA and NA?
  • Review basic diagram on p. 98.
  • bottom up vs. top down -- see conclusion at
  • problems of measurement -- "shared method variance"
  • more sophisticated model -- domain importance
  • Research Question: What could explain variance in LS besides DS?
  • Positive illusions
  • Money
  • "direct evidence" of bottom up theory -- if people are thinking of important domains while assessing LS, then. ... 107
  • Research Question on Structure of Affect: What explains independence of PA and NA? Are they really independent?
  • structural - imp. research by Diener, Smith, and Fujita (p. 109) verify independence, crit. Bradburn. ""The more items assess pure valence and focus on pervasive moods rather than emotional episodes, the more negative is the correlation between PA and NA."
  • causal - maybe neuroticism drives NA and extraversion drives PA? Note Conclusion.
  • momentary - 114: "PA and NA can be independent over extended time periods, even if they are fully dependent at each moment. "It. For example, even if love and hate were mutuallyexclusive at one moment in time, some individuals could experience more loveand more hate over extended periods of time than others (Bradbum, 1969;Schimmack & Diener, 1997).

Philosophical Method

  • A lot of our work today involved using evidence from other disciplines to build a theory, deductive inference within the research discussions, and, with Haidt, trying to acquire some conceptual vocabulary.

September 6, 2012

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 postive 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.
  • Puzzle: objective conditions are worse for old people (health, depression and lonliness!), yet they are more satisfied. (Neural degeneration has got to be on the table as a hypothesis.)
  • Education
  • The educated are slightly happier. 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?] But income and job status account for most of the education effect.
  • Social Status
  • About twice the effect of education or age, but half of the effect is from job status. Greater effect for stratified societies. [Comment on being a professor in Italy, for example.]
  • Argyle suggest the causal mechanisms are straightforward. Lots of positive life indicators are clustered with social class. "s? The overall effect, including .the effect of income and education, is easy to ex¬plain: there is a multiple effect of better jobs,housing, relationships, and leisure. We show later that there are massive class differences in leisure—middle-class individuals engage in much more active leisure, belong to twice as many clubs, take much more exercise, take more holidays and outings, read more, have more social life, and pursue more hobbies. Working-class people just watch more television." 356
  • 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, purcasing power indexes, etc.)
  • 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.
  • 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 dimemsion to them. (figuure 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.
  • 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 sig 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."
  • Effects greater during high employment.
  • The retired are happier on average than those at work (.25 standard dev). Notes sensitivity to retirment income.
  • 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.
  • Flow is a factor. Comparisons of high engagement and high apathy (tv) leisure activities.
  • TV watching as a leisure activity. 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.
  • 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.
  • Churchgoers are healthier.
  • 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."

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. Wealth is clustered with other factors that predict H, such as right, equality, fulfillment of needs, and individualism.
  2. Transnational similarities (p. 435, in all nations most people are happy) might reflect some tendency to for judgements to be group-relative.
  3. General validity concerns about self reports are offset by research using multiple measures.
  4. Example of Russian / US student comparison, 437
  5. Are nations meaningful units of analysis? Looking at subgroups suggests yes.
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. These factors have effects on both SWB and income that have not been isolated.
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. (Carol Graham, Happiness Around the World, is the main succeesor research that I'm aware of. 1999 vs. 2009).
Different models for explaining cultural differences are presented:
  1. innate needs approach, Veenhoven, explains lack of growth in SWB in rich countries.
  2. theory of goal striving, SWB relative to goal pursuits, which are different between rich and poor nations.
  3. models of emotional socialization, different cultures/nations social young to affect in different ways.
  4. genetic explanations.

Typical Image for the Easterlin Paradox

Typical Image for Myers Diener / Easterlin Paradox --from Layard, Happiness

September 11, 2012

Haidt, "The Divided Self"

Chapter 1. The Divided Self

  • metaphors from Plato. H's: elephant and rider.
  • discusses a number of preliminary distinctions:
  • Mind vs. Body - gut brain. neurons all over.
  • Left vs. Right -Micharel Gazzaniga, collected evidence on split brain patients (severing corpus collasum to reduce seizures), controlled experiements with patients report of l/r brain function. split brains in everyday life...
  • New vs. Old -neocortex and frontal cortex recent - case of U VA schoolteacher in his forties who starts acting weird - massivt tumor in frontal cortex. (Phineas Gage)
  • Controlled vs. Automatic - priming example, 13.
  • Failures of self control 18: Mischel and Impulse control [1] 19: Wegner on ironic processes (don't think of a white bear). point: shows automatic and controlled processes at odds.
  • Disgust 21: disgust - incest scenario -
22 q. statement about rider and elephant. "We make pronouncements, vows, and resolutions, and then are surprised by our own powerlessness to carry them out. We sometimes fall into the view that we are fighting with our unconscious, our id, or our animal self. But really we are the whole thing. We are the rider, and we are the elephant. Both have their strengths and special skills."

September 13, 2012

Darrin McMahon, Chapter 2, Perpetual Felicity

  • Characteristics of Roman culture of happiness: propsperity, fertility, power, luck. Also images of simplicity.
  • Carpe Diem
  • Judaic term: Asher
  • Early Christian Model of Happiness -- radical inversion of classical and Roman thought.
  • Story of Perpetua and Felicitas. Martyrdom and Happiness.
  • Milestones and concepts for Christian thought on happiness after Early Christianity: Augustine, Pseudo-Dyonisius, Aquinas
  • Important: Aquinas distinction between perfect and imperfect happiness.


Some General Points on Yoga

  • samadhi - the goal of the spiritual practice of yoga; ecstasy, union; a mystical experience of enlightenment
  • Yoga, defined in various ways, also in relation to Vedanta narrative. dualism and monism in yogic thought.
  • 3 periods pre-classical (or Vedanta), classical (Patanjali 2nd cent. CE), and post-classical (ex. Shankara, 8th cent). Important that Patanjali's period represents a dualist approach. Purusa / Prakrati. Spirit / Nature, roughly.
  • Teacher/disciple model.

(from Barbara Miller, From Miller, p 6 and following):

  • Yoga found in ancient Indian (Hindu) thought. Meditative figures on coins from 3,000 bc. Rig Veda has image of a yogi who, by achieving physical control through asanas (poses) and physical austerities (fasting, meditation, etc.), achieves access to a "deeper realm" of insights about reality.
  • Yoga in Bhagvad Gita: Arjuna, warrior, locked in battle with his own kin. Important conversation with Krishna. (Pre-classical)
  • note p. 11, Axial Age transition from warrior to moral culture. Sage's powers become moral and lead to personal fulfillment and enlightenment.

Miller, Yoga: Discipline of Freedom, Introduction

  • This is an introduction to her edition / translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
  • "The aim of yoga is to eliminate the control that material nature exerts over the human spirit, to rediscover through introspective practice what the poet T. S. Eliot called the "still point of the turning world." " This is a state of perfect equilibrium and absolute spiritual calm, an interior refuge in the chaos of worldly existence. In the view of Patanjali, yogic practice can break habitual ways of thinking and acting that bind one to the corruptions of everyday life."
  • From Samkhya dualism: everything is a mix of prakrati and purusa.
  • The Three Gunas: Lucidity (sattva), Passion (rajas), and inertia (tamas).
  • follow Miller's discussion of thought proces (citta), "tyranny of uncontrollable thought," reducing thought "traces" or "seeds". goal to make thought "invulnerable" to the chaos of mental and physical stimuli. (discussion: And this is a good thing because....?)
  • In Patanjali:
  • First, there's a process of "unenlightenment" -- Purusa becomes bound to prakrati. Enlightenment is about undoing the this entanglement. (Note again connection with Buddhism, which comes much later.)
  • (from Farhi)
  • Five Kleshas in Patanjali:
  • 1. Avidha: Ignorance of our eternal nature
  • 2. Asmita: Seeing oneself as separate and divided from the rest ofthe world
  • 3. Raga: Attraction and attachment to impermanent things
  • 4. Dvesha: Aversion to the unpleasant
  • 5. Abhinivesha: Clinging to life because we fail to perceive the seamless continuity of consciousness, which cannot be broken by death (Yoga-Sutra 13)


  • Ashtanga Yoga -- eight fold program (from wikipedia):


Sanskrit English
Yama moral codes
Niyama self-purification and study
Asana posture
Pranayama breath control
Pratyahara sense control
Dharana intention
Dhyana meditation
Samadhi contemplation

Fahri, The Four Brahmavihara

The Brahmavihara are four attittudes Patanjali recommends developing:

  • 1. Friendliness toward the joyful
  • 2. Compassion for those who are sufferuig
  • 3. Celebrating the good in others
  • 4. Remaining impartial to the faults and imperfections of others(Yoga-Sutra 1.33)
  • Note Fahri's more "social" focus.
  • Follow, in some detail, her discussion of each Brahmavihara. Importance of cultivating empathy
  • Note how this stands philosophical wisdom on it's head.

Additional Quote on Goal of Yoga

from T. S. Rumani, " Samkhya-Yoga," Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy

September 18, 2012

Introduction to Buddhism (from wikipedia)

  • The Four Noble Truths
1 There is suffering.
2 There is the origination of suffering: suffering comes into existence in dependence on causes.
3 There is the cessation of suffering: all future suffering can be prevented by becoming aware of our ignorance and undoing the effects of it.
4 There is a path to the cessation of suffering.
8 fold path. (see above and in Feuerstein.)


Division Eightfold Path factors Acquired factors
Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñā, Pāli: paññā) 1. Right view 9. Superior right knowledge
2. Right intention 10. Superior right liberation
Ethical conduct (Sanskrit: śīla, Pāli: sīla) 3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
Concentration (Sanskrit and Pāli: samādhi) 6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration


Introduction to Buddhism (Siderits)

  • Background on Buddha
  • note heterodoxy, intro/dev karmic theory, moral teaching ind. of focus on ritual and deities.
  • consensus on "moksa" as goal of enlightenment. Buddha's teaching one of many.
  • The Four Noble Truths
1 There is suffering.
  1. Normal pain. Decay, disease, death.
  2. Suffering from ignorance of impermanence. Including ignorance of no-self. Suffering from getting what your want or don't want.
  3. Suffering from conditions. Rebirth itself is a form of suffering.
2 There is the origination of suffering: suffering comes into existence in dependence on causes.
Note the chain of causal connection advanced on p. 22 of Siderits: ignorance ultimate causes suffering, but the intermediate steps are important.
3 There is the cessation of suffering: all future suffering can be prevented by becoming aware of our ignorance and undoing the effects of it. "It is the utter cessation and extinction of that craving, its renunciation,its forsaking, release from it, and non-attachment to it." (from pali canon reading)
4 There is a path to the cessation of suffering.
8 fold path. importance of meditation (p. 24)


  • Problems and issues with suffering: What kinds of suffering are there? For Buddhists, for you. [Distinquish good/bad, nec/unnec, etc.]
  • Dependent Origin: what is it? Our cosmic and existential condition. Compare to alienation through original sin.
  • Cessation of suffering: meditation, (non)self-discovery. [Need to assess this more in light of Discourse on Mindfulness and the Eight Fold path (See wiki page Noble Eight Fold Path)
  • Note discussion of meditation, p. 25. Basic theory for mindfulness meditation exercise.
  • Liberation
  • rejection of presentism and annihilationism as models for liberation.
  • paradox of liberation: how can you desire liberation if liberation requires relinguishment of desire. Possible solution: to desire the end of suffering.

Pali Canon, Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness

  • "Mindfulness is also the seventh factor of the Noble Eightfold Path. By developing mindfulness, a person first observes the various aspects of one's being,then learns to control the mind and its reactions to external and internal stimuli."
  • Lots of material in here. Four foundations of mindfulness, five aggregates of attachement, six bases of sense, seven factors of enlightenment, four noble truths (51),
  • Some Points:
  • Mindfulness not disconnection from environment, but intense connection.
  • Note use of lists and repetition. inventories.
  • Note "joy and happiness born of detachment" 57

Introduction to self-guided mindfulness meditation

  • Read wiki page: [Meditation Exercises]
  • Goal is to experience a psychological "meditation effect," often in 3rd week. Characteristics. Psychological process.
  • Time, Place, Seating and Environment
  • Initial challenges
  • Maintaining comfortable alertness
  • Working with mental content: problem of thought suppression.
  • Techniques for dissipating mental content: visualizations, returning to breath, optica effects
  • 2nd to 4th week goals. Noticing changes in mental state (if any) pre post meditation. Noticing differences between different meditation experiences. Noticing changes in interaction with others, mood, or affect within hours of meditation.

September 20, 2012

Followup on Distinctions between philosophical reconstruction and forms and diversity of religious belief

Hellenistic Hedonism: Epicurus -- Letter to Menoeceus and Principal Doctrine

Key Idea: Pleasure is the Good.

  • accepts reality of gods in spite of atomistic metaphysics
  • recall tetrapharmakos: Don't fear gods. Death is nothing. What is good is easy to get. What is evil is easy to endure.
  • Why not worry about the Gods? (fill in from Prinicipal Doctrines)
  • Why not worry about death?
  • Clasification of desire: p. 2
  • Plain fare (Letter); PD 8ff: analysis of pleasure
  • PD 5: Relation of virture to pleasure
  • PD 25: something akin to mindfulness.

Article on Epicurus' concept of pleasure Epicurus_on_Pleasure_and_the_Complete_Life

Hellenistic Stoicism: Epictetus

Key Idea: To realize our rational nature, we need to adjust our thinking about our lives to what we know about reality.

  • "Some things are in our control and others are not."
  • background distinction: still materialist, but distinguishes "theos" and "matter" (finer to coarser particles) Not quite an atomist because the "rational" is real.
  • "Confine your aversion" and understand the limits of things: infamous #3.
  • Something like mindfulness, #4
  • Fundamental maxim: #8, #14, in case you missed it the first time...
  • Desire: #15,
  • Comportment in later points of the enchiridion. (Unabashedly hierarchal -- recall "mix of elements")

September 25, 2012

Note on Method

  • Basic reason giving. Argument structure
  • Goal of group work today: Reasons all around.

William Irvine, Chapter 4, "Negative Visualization"

  • Reasons for contemplating bad things.
  • Adaptation: wants to reverse it. "creating a desire in us for the things we already have" 67-68. Two fathers thought experiment.
  • Contemplation of our own death.
  • Sources of evidence: children, people who survive disasters (catastrophe-induced transformation), grace, unluckiness to stimulate sense of being lucky.
  • Objections: p. 81: Doesn't this heighten loss? response:

William Irvine, Chapter 5, "The Trichotomy of Control"

  • Some things up us, somethings aren't.
  • Internal strategy: changing ourselves. Desire not to be frustrated by future desires.
  • Irvine's critique of dichotomy: ambiguity -- total or partial control.
  • Complete control of opinions, desires, and aversions. (?) moves desires on basis of casino argument.
  • Complete control (irvine): goals 91, values
  • Should you want to win the tennis match, as a Stoic? internal/externally expressed goals.
  • Problem of Stoic cosmopolitanism: Why would a stoic set goals that would threaten his/her tranquility?

September 27, 2012

No class due to conference travel.

October 2, 2012

Gilbert, Chapter 1. Journey to Elsewhen

  • the difference, to the problem of happiness, from our ability to imagine a future.
  • Nexting; frontal lobe; Phinneas Gage; lobotomies; N.N.
  • Prospection and Emotion: ways that we enjoy anticipation of a future, even as substitute, American optimism and distorted sense of the future. Control. study at 21ff.

McMahon, Chapter 3: From Heaven to Earth (Renaissance & Reformation)

  • Contemptus Mundi: 13th-15th century: characteristics.
  • Contrast with Renaissance:
  • Pico: 1463. Oration on Dignity of Man. key ideas: protean character of man. 146: still traditional model (in line with Aquinas' dist.)
  • Renaissance Neo-platonism 151: vertical path to happiness.
  • Bronzino's Allegory of Happiness -- connection to earthly happiness evident.
  • Emerging Images and Ideas: 15th-16th centuries
  • Felicitas
  • Smiles -- also, Mona Lisa, early 1500's
  • Melancholy as disease
  • Reformation
  • Martin Luther and happiness: letter, effect of grace
  • Calvin
  • Locke, late 17th century. tabula rasa, nb. 180. reassertion of happiness as driver of desire. Note enlightenment model of reasonableness of christianity here.

McMahon, Chapter 4: Self-Evident Truths (Enlightenment)

  • Image of search for paradise -- 199. pleasure gardens. Pope (18th cent.). note new questions.
  • Note internal summary at 204: 3 big influences: 1) new attitudes toward pleasure and sin; 2) happiness as sign of grace; 3) God intends our happiness here.
  • Wealth -- direction of causation?
  • Enlightenment, changed "how can I be saved?" into "how can I be happy?"
  • Importance of Lisbon earthquake: 1755. Voltaire, Candide
  • British Happiness: Bentham and the "felicity calculus" --
  • French Hedonism (La Mettrie and de Sade), and Rousseau: characteristics, critique (237-238)
  • Johnson and Rasselas: pursuit of happiness as source of unhappiness.

October 4, 2012

Gilbert, Chapter 2: The View from in Here

  • Objectivity Issues: emotional, moral, judgement happiness.
  • How can the twins be happy? What is the role of "objective conditions"?
  • Subjectivity of Yellow, 32. Nozick's experience machine, 35. Happy Frank, p. 37.
  • Describer's study, 41. What do we access when we make happiness judgements?
  • How reliable is our judgement from one minute to the next?
  • Interviewer substitution studies Daniel Simon's Lab: [2]. Other perceptual aspects, 43.
  • Happiness scales
  • Language squishing and Experience stretching
  • Language squishing hyp: We "squeeze" our happiness scale (language) to fit the range of our objective exp.
  • R&L feel exactly like you do (about a birthday cake, for example) but talk about it differently.
  • consistent with ideas that the same feeling or state could receive a higher assessment by someone with limited experience.
  • Experience stretching hyp: We take the range of our objective experience and stretch it to fit our scale.
  • R&L talk about experiences the same as you do but feel something different.
  • consistent with idea that we might be "ruined" by 4 star hotels, but that absence of peak experiences is not a problem.

Gilbert, Chapter 3: Outside Looking In

  • How well do we know what we're feeling? Scary comes before understanding. (That's scary.)
  • Capilano Bridge Study -- fear and arousal.
  • Alexithymia - mismatch of experience and awareness of experience. You could be happy and not know it. (That's scary, too.)
  • Addressing Measurement Issues
  • physical correlates, multiple measures, avoid priming,
  • Law of Large Numbers -- resolves some issues of objectivity.
  • "problem of subjective experience" -- relation between knowledge of patterns and individual. point, bottom of p. 69.

October 9, 2012

Love and Happiness

Overall Question: What effect, if any, does thinking about love through a naturalist theory (such as attachment) make to our experience of love, given that that experience is deeply cultural?

  • Is it liberating or depressing?
  • Is the naturalist account sound?

Haidt, Chapter 6: Love and Attachments

  • Attachment Theory
  • Harlow's monkeys -- "cloth mother studies"
  • Bowlby's children and orphans. hears about Harlow's work. Aberrant psychoanalyst.
  • Keys to attachment: safety and exploration. postulates a "design system" to negotiate this tension.
  • Ainsworth "Strange Situation" 2/3 secure. other 1/3 split
  • Haidt's thesis: questions data, styles more flexible than early research hypothesized.
  • Attachment Theory as Explanation for love
  • Love is for a species with big heads.
  • Addresses the question of romantic love as "just" attachment theory plus mating.
  • Proposes distinction between: passionate and companionate love. distinct processes.
  • Aside: Philosophers on love. Buddha and Plato
  • Caritas and Agape as extensions.

Brooks, Social Animal

  • goal is to heighten awareness of the relationship between the cultural dimension of courtship and the biological.
  • Harold and Erika. two levels. "meld" is something like transition to companionate love?

de Botton reminds us of need for "social love"

October 11, 2012

de Botton, "Expectation"

  • Image of Nixon and Khruschev facing off on the value of material wealth.
  • Consider profound changes in standard of living from end of medieval times to present.
  • FDR recommending the Sears catalogue as one book to show Soviet people the advantages of American life.
  • de Botton implies that our "social comparison" abilities might have been jolted by the great increases in wealth from the Industrial Revolution and capitalism. Result might be increased "Status Anxiety". Important points here about social comparison. 26-27.
  • Shift from Medieval Christianity, quote p. 28. Problems of meritocracy for status anxiety. old system justified inequality impersonally.
  • Traces the growth of idea of government being "justified" by its performance in the social contract. Rise of meritocratic thinking.
  • Alexis de Tocqueville and American's "strange melancholy" -- an unexpected consequence of lifting barriers of aristocratic society is that members of society may experience more adverse social comparison and anxiousness about success.
  • James on self-esteem: quotient of Success and Pretentions.
  • Given de Botton's argument, it makes sense that myth of the self-made man would be prominent in Am. Culture.
"The price we have paid for expecting to be so much more than our ancestors is a a perpetual anxiety that we are far from being all we might be."

de Botton, "Meritocracy"

  • Three Old Stories about Failure
  • Poor not responsible for condition and value to society
  • Low status neutral
  • Rich are sinful and robbed the poor
  • Three Anxiety Inducing Stories about Success
  • Rich are useful, not the poor.
  • Status has moral connotation. (contra xianity)
  • Poor are corrupt and poor because of their deficiencies

Gilbert, Chapter 4: In the Blind Spot of the Mind's Eye

  • Comparions of Adolph Fisher & George Eastman. Point: Need to 2nd guess how we impose seemingly objective criteria on others' lives.
  • Brain reweaves experience: study with cars and stop signs/yield signs. Information acquired after the event alters memory of the event.
  • Two highly confirmed results: Memory fills in. We don't typically notice it happening.
  • Model of Mind (84) Prior to 19th century:
"philosophers had thought of the senses as conduits that allowed information about the properties of objects in the world to travel from the object and into the mind. The mind was like a movie screen in which the object was rebroadcast. The operation broke down on occasion, hence people occasionally saw things as they were not. But when the senses were working properly, they showed what was there. This theory of realism was described in 1690 by the philosopher John Locke: brains "believe" they don't "make believe" .
  • Model of Mind brought in with Kant at beginning of 1800's:
Kant's idealism: "Kant's new theory of idealism claimed that our perceptions are not the result of a physiological process by which our eyes somehow transmit an image of the world into our brains but rather, they are the result of a psychological process that combines what our eyes see with what we already think, feel, know, want, and believe, and then uses this combination of sensory information and preexisting knowledge to construct our perception of reality. "
  • Still, we act like realists: truck moving study-- we are first realists, but we learn to adopt an idealist perspective in social communication.
  • We fill in details: imagine a plate of spaghetti. Very important for thinking about how we fill in the future.

Gilbert, Chapter 5: The Hound of Silence

  • We don't train on what's not there: pigeons, detecting pattern change in trigrams.
  • Why do non-describer sports fans overestimate impact of losing a big game? 102 They don't think about the whole picture -- what's going to happen after the game, etc. Details the describers fill in. (Interesting practical lesson here.) Likewise, with california happiness studies.
  • Time frame matters: example of agreeing to baby sit in a month vs. tomorrow night. (But if our motivation is thrown off that much by a few weeks, what does that say about our predictions about what will motivate us in 20 years!!!)

October 16, 2012

October 18, 2012

Gilbert, Chapter 6, The Future is Now

  • Being wrong about the future: possibility of heavy planes flying. 112
  • 113: Examples of current experience displacing past experience: dating couples, worries about exams, memories of Perot supporters.
  • Examples of how we fail to predict how future selves will feel. 115: Volunteers choosing candy bars or knowing answers.
  • We fail to account for the way future experience will change future preferences.
  • Sneak Prefeel -- evidence suggests brain can have emotional responses to imaginings of the future. We simulate future events, we don't just experience them reflectively.
  • How to Select Posters: In poster selection study, the "thinkers" are less satisfied with their choices.
  • Limits of Prefeeling: "We can't see or feel two things at once, and the brain has strict priorities about what it will see, hear, and feel and what it will ignore. ... For instance, if we try to imagine a penguin while we are looking at an ostrich, the brain's policy won't allow it."122
  • Read cartoon on bottom of p. 125 "Imagination cannot easily transcend the boundaries of the present, and one reason for this is that it must borrow machinery that is owned by perception. The fact that these two processes must run on the same platform means that we are sometimes confused about which one is running. We assume that what we feel as we imagine the future is what we'll feel when we get there, but in fact, what we feel as we imagine the future is often response to what's happening in the present."

Gilbert, Chapter 7, Time Bombs

  • We spatialize time because it's an abstract thing and thinking of its spatially helps make it concrete.
  • Hedonic adaptation -- factors affecting the habituation rate -- (start list)
  • False prediction of future pleasure -- p. 130 study on snack predictions.
  • Gilberts partial point -- variety has a cost… [But it doesn't follow that it's not in your happiness-interest to pay it

sometimes.]

  • Slogan of the night: "Pleasure isn't linear."
  • Spagetti satisfaction predictions under condition of multi-tasking, p. 136.

Lots of Other Biases

  • Anchoring Bias (135)-- how many african countries?, Sensitivity to changes, (accounts for preferences for steady income increases, even it net payout is lower).
  • Preference for the marked down vacation, even if more costly than a marked up one.
  • Famous Khaneman and Tversky "mental accounting" study -- (140)
  • We compare the present to the past instead of to the possible. (coffee example)
  • But we also make mistakes when we compare the present to the possible. (tv purchase example, wine example, dictionary comparison, chips/chocolate vs. chips/sardines)
  • Loss aversion (145)

October 23, 2012

Csiksentmihalyi, Finding Flow, Chapters 1-3

Structures of Everyday Life

  • Focus on how we spend our time and the state of mind/affect we experience from diff. activities in daily life
  • Experience Sampling Method -- p. 14ff

The Content of Experience

  • Theoretical position, p. 21: Wants to ask less for self-reports of happiness and more about the moods and affect that might be functionally related to happiness.
  • Discussion of emotions, goals, and thoughts in terms of the organization of "psychic energy", roughly, the cognitive / emotive state of my mind at a particular moment or during an activity.
  • FLOW, p. 29ff.
"It is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness, that makes for excellence in life. When we are in flow, we are not happy, because to experience happiness we must focus on our inner states, and that would take away attention from the task at hand."
  • Questioning theoretical implications of flow for happiness.

How We Feel When Doing Different Things

  • Table 2: Quality of Experience in Everyday Activities
  • Schizophrenic patient and ESM
  • Implicit hypothesis: People have different strategies and degrees of awareness of how to manage their affect (a form of self-care). Happiness might be improved by developing these capacities for self-care.


Small Group Topics

  • Consider Csiksentmihalyi's research strategy, the relationship between flow and happiness, and the "implicit hyposthesis" above during your group discussion today.

October 25, 2012

Fred Bryant, Savoring, Chapter 1, Concepts of Savoring: An Introduction

  • Savoring: capacity to attend to, appreciate and enhance positive experiences. (Note newness of research.)
  • Defining at p. 3.
  • Distinguishing savoring from pleasure -- reflective dimension to savoring. Includes anticipation. "Appreciative awareness." Not so much in sexual orgasm, but pre/post.
  • Need to suppress "social and esteem needs" for savoring.
  • Savoring distinguished from other processes. In relation to:
  • Mindfulness -- savoring narrower, 8.
  • Meditation
  • Flow

Robert Emmons, Gratitude, Subjective Well-Being, and the Brain

  • importance of exchange of gifts, symbolic and material.
  • Broad range of gratitude: from specific feeling about a particular event or circumstance to a general attitude toward life. Life as a gift.
  • Definitions: "positive recognition pleasant feeling from received benefit. "undeserved merit" From Fitzgerald (470): appreciation, goodwill, disposition that follows from appreciation and goodwill.
  • Gratitude can be a "virtue" if understood as a cultivated disposition to recognize undeserved merit.
  • Gratitude response is stronger if the beneficiary intends the benefit.
  • Evolutionary Perspective
  • "as a cognitive—emotional supplement serving to sustain reciprocal obligations. -Simmel (471) "Thus, during exchange of benefits, gratitude prompts one person (a beneficiary) to be bound to another (a benefactor) during "exchange of benefits, thereby reminding beneficiaries of their reciprocity obligations."
  • "Trivers viewed gratitude as an evolutionary adaptation that regulates people's responses to altruistic acts. Gratitude for altruistic acts is a reward for adherence to the universal norm of reciprocity and is a mediating mechanism that links the receipt of a favor to the giving of a return favor."
  • Gratitude as Affective Trait
  • grateful people experience more positive emotion. 473 (direction of causation? If you're happy and you don't know it...)
  • other correlates.
  • Gratitude and SWB, interventions, mechanisms.
  • Strong claim for long term effects of gratitude as a trait: p. 476 -- participants show SWB boost 6 months later.
  • Main studies 474. gratitude condition / hassles condition. gratitude effects:
  • details from mechanisms: depression and gratitude.


  • Gratitude and the Brain
  • Cognitive-affective neuroscience construct (What's happening to your brain when you experience gratitude?)
  • General hypothesis: we have structures for both perceiving gratitude in others and expressing it.
  • Specific hypothesis: Limbic prefontal networks involved: "; (1) the fusiform face-processing areas near the temporal—occipital junctions, (2) the amygdala and Limbic emotional processing systems that support emotional states, and (3) interactions between these two subcortical centers with the prefrontal regions that control executive and evaluative processes." 483. Like other prosocial emotions.
Specific hypothesis tested with studies of gratitude and mood induction in Parkinson's Disease patients.


  • Psychological attitudes at odds with gratitude: "' A number of personal burdens and external obstacles block grateful thoughts. A number of attitudes are incompatible with a grateful outlook on Hfe, including perceptions of victimhood, an in ability to admit one's shortcomings, a sense of entitlement, and an inability to admit that one is not self-sufficient. InIn a culture that celebrates self-aggrandizement and perceptions of deservingness, gratitude can be crowded out.
  • Broad range of gratitude: from specific feeling about a particular event or circumstance to a general attitude toward life. Life as a gift.
  • Definitions: pleasant feeling from received benefit. "undeserved merit" From Fitzgerald (470): appreciation, goodwill, disposition that follows from appreciation and goodwill.
  • Gratitude can be a "virtue" if understood as a cultivated disposition to recognize undeserved merit.
  • Gratitude response is stronger if the beneficiary intends the benefit.
  • Evolutionary Perspective
  • "as a cognitive—emotional supplement serving to sustain reciprocal obligations. -Simmel (471) "Thus, during exchange of benefits, gratitude prompts one person (a beneficiary) to be bound to another (a benefactor) during "exchange of benefits, thereby reminding beneficiaries of their reciprocity obligations."
  • "Trivers viewed gratitude as an evolutionary adaptation that regulates people's responses to altruistic acts. Gratitude for altruistic acts is a reward for adherence to the universal norm of reciprocity and is a mediating mechanism that links the receipt of a favor to the giving of a return favor."
  • Gratitude and SWB
  • Strong claim for long term effects of gratitude as a trait: p. 476 -- participants show SWB boost 6 months later.
  • Gratitude and the Brain
  • Cognitive-affective neuroscience construct (What's happening to your brain when you experience gratitude?)
  • General hypothesis: we have structures for both perceiving gratitude in others and expressing it.
  • Specific hypothesis: Limbic prefontal networks involved: "; (1) the fusiform face-processing areas near the temporal—occipital junctions, (2) the amygdala and Limbic emotional processing systems that support emotional states, and (3) interactions between these two subcortical centers with the prefrontal regions that control executive and evaluative processes." 483. Like other prosocial emotions.
Specific hypothesis tested with studies of gratitude and mood induction in Parkinson's Disease patients.


  • Psychological attitudes at odds with gratitude: "' A number of personal burdens and external obstacles block grateful thoughts. A number of attitudes are incompatible with a grateful outlook on Hfe, including perceptions of victimhood, an in ability to admit one's shortcomings, a sense of entitlement, and an inability to admit that one is not self-sufficient. InIn a culture that celebrates self-aggrandizement and perceptions of deservingness, gratitude can be crowded out.

October 30, 2012

Bryant, Chapter 8: Enhancing Savoring

Types of Savoring -- see handout from Chapter 5

  • Factors Enhancing both Coping and Savoring: Social Support (sharing feelings with others), Writing about life experiences, Downward hedonic contrast (neg. vis.), Humor, Spirituality & Religion, Awareness of Fleetingness of Experience.
  • Essential Pre-conditions for Savoring
  • Freedom from Social and Esteem Concerns: explicated largely in terms of mindfulness...
  • Present Focus: goes back to what might seem odd about mindfulness are preparatory to savoring.
  • Attentional Focus:
  • Exercises
  • Vacation in Daily Life
  • Life Review -- "chaining"
  • Camera Exercise

Additional Issues:

  • Savoring and Connoisseurship
  • Does Savoring require (or is it enhanced by) connoisseurship? How does that square with Epicurean simplicity?

Watkins, Chapter 9: Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being

  • Before getting into Watkins reading, diagram the "gratitude relationship"
  • Focus on emotional benefits of expressing gratitude.
  • Distinguishes gratitude as a practice vs. trait. Traits are relatively fixed aspects of personality.
  • Researching the direction of causation -- p. 172ff: if it's possible to manipulate gratitude conditions and see a quasi-functional relationship on mood. Seems to have been weakly confirmed. Still possible to have bidirectional causation. Are happy people grateful or grateful people happier?
  • Series of studies on emotional benefits, gratefulness as a cause p. 174ff -- "Participants in the grateful condition felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the future than students in both of the other comparison conditions." 174. Second study tested specific technique of downward comparison and compared it to control and "hassles" condition.
  • How does gratitude contribute to happiness?
  • 1: emotional boost from "gift" character of gratitude experiences.
  • 2: counteracting hedonic habituation
  • 3: focusing attention away from upward comparisons toward downward comparisons.
  • 4: coping -- evidence from p. 178ff, less PTSD in grateful people.
  • 5: increasing accessibility and recollection of pleasant life events -- note, this follows from memory bias studies (p. 179)
  • 6: increasing actual number or positive events -- esp. through social network. social benefits.
  • 7: decrease depressed mood
  • Feedback loop in gratitutde effects.

Additional Issue:

  • Connect "uniqueness" issue in savoring (208) with uniqueness/perfection discussion.