Stability of Happiness

Theories and Evidence on Whether Happiness Can Change

Edited by

  • Kennon Sheldon, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA
  • Richard E. Lucas, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

The right to "pursue happiness" is one of the dominant themes of western culture, and understanding the causes of happiness is one of the primary goals of the positive psychology movement. However, before the causality question can even be considered, a more basic question must be addressed: CAN happiness change? Reasons for skepticism include the notion of a "genetic set point" for happiness, i.e. a stable personal baseline of happiness to which individuals will always return, no matter how much their lives change for the better; the life-span stability of happiness-related traits such as neuroticism and extraversion; and the powerful processes of hedonic adaptation, which erode the positive effects of any fortuitous life change. This book investigates prominent theories on happiness with the research evidence to discuss when and how happiness changes and for how long.
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Researchers in social psychology, developmental psychology, or clinical psychology interested in the well being of people over time


Book information

  • Published: July 2014
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-411478-4

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Is it Possible to Become a Permanently Happier Person?
Kennon M. Sheldon and Richard E. Lucas

Chapter 2 - Well-Being: Heritable and Changeable
Espen Roysamb, Ragnhild Bang Nes, and Joar Vitterso

Chapter 3 - Symptoms of Wellness: Happiness and Eudaimonia from a Self-Determination Perspective
Cody R. DeHaan and Richard M. Ryan

Chapter 4 - Is Lasting Change Possible? Lessons From the Hedonic Adaptation Prevention Model
Christina Armenta, Katherine Jacobs Bao, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Kennon M. Sheldon

Chapter 5 - Can Happiness Change? Theories and Evidence
Robert A. Cummins

Chapter 6 - National Panel Studies Show Substantial Minorities Recording Long Term Change In Life Satisfaction: Implications for Set-Point Theory
Bruce Headey, Ruud Muffels, and Gert G. Wagner

Chapter 7 - Does Happiness Change? Evidence from Longitudinal Studies
Stevie C. Y. Yap, Ivana Anusic, and Richard E. Lucas

Chapter 8 - Increasing Happiness by Well-being Therapy
Chiara Ruini and Giovanni A. Fava

Chapter 9 - Long-Term Change of Happiness in Nations: Two Times More Rise Than Decline Since the 1970s
Ruut Veenhoven

Chapter 10 - Set Point Theory and Public Policy
Richard A. Easterlin and Malgorzata Switek

Chapter 11 - Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness
Nattavudh Powdthavee and Alois Stutzer

Chapter 12 - Personality Traits as Potential Moderators of Well-Being
Patrick L. Hill, Daniel K. Mroczek, and Robin K. Young

Chapter 13 - Statistical Models for Analyzing Stability and Change in Happiness
Michael Eid and Tanja Kutscher

Chapter 14 - Stable Happiness Dies in Middle-Age: A Guide to Future Research
Ed Diener