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Stability of Happiness - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124114784, 9780124105386

Stability of Happiness

1st Edition

Theories and Evidence on Whether Happiness Can Change

Editors: Kennon Sheldon Richard E. Lucas
Hardcover ISBN: 9780124114784
Paperback ISBN: 9780128102497
eBook ISBN: 9780124105386
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 2nd July 2014
Page Count: 334
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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.

Key Features

  • Identifies all major theories of happiness
  • Reviews empirical results on happiness longevity/stability
  • Discusses mitigating factors in what influences happiness longevity


Researchers in social psychology, developmental psychology, or clinical psychology interested in the well being of people over time

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Is It Possible to Become a Permanently Happier Person?: An Overview of the Issues and the Book

  • References

Chapter 2. Well-Being: Heritable and Changeable

  • Introduction
  • Can Happiness Change?
  • Heritability
  • Toward an Integrated Model of Genes, Environment, and Change
  • Conclusions
  • References

Chapter 3. Symptoms of Wellness: Happiness and Eudaimonia from a Self-Determination Perspective

  • The Stability of Happiness
  • Self-Determination Theory
  • Motivational Considerations
  • Awareness and Autonomous Regulation: The Role of Mindfulness
  • Goals and Aspirations
  • Social and Environmental Factors
  • Conclusions
  • References

Chapter 4. Is Lasting Change Possible? Lessons from the Hedonic Adaptation Prevention Model

  • Hedonic Adaptation
  • Evidence Supporting Hedonic Adaptation
  • Hedonic Adaptation Prevention Model
  • Future Directions and Questions
  • Conclusion
  • References

Chapter 5. Can Happiness Change? Theories and Evidence

  • Introduction
  • Problems of Nomenclature
  • The Personality Connection
  • Set Points for Mood Happiness
  • Subjective Well-being Homeostasis
  • Challenges to Set Point Theory
  • Can Levels of Happiness Change?
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgments
  • References

Chapter 6. National Panel Studies Show Substantial Minorities Recording Long-Term Change in Life Satisfaction: Implications for Set Point Theory

  • A Crucial Definitional Issue: How to Define the Set Point?
  • Operational Definitions
  • The German (GSOEP), British (BHPS), and Australian (HILDA) Household Panel Surveys
  • Measures
  • Life Priorities, Goals, or Values
  • Behavioral Choices: Partner Personality Traits, Social Participation, the Work–Leisure Trade-off, Regular Exercise, and ChurchGoing
  • Results
  • Explaining Medium- and Long-Term Change in Life Satisfaction: Life Priorities and Behavioral Choices
  • Behavioral Choices
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix 6.1
  • Correlations of Life Satisfaction1984–1988 with Life Satisfaction in Later 5-Year Periods
  • References

Chapter 7. Does Happiness Change? Evidence from Longitudinal Studies

  • Understanding Change through Stability Coefficients
  • Alternatives to Two-Wave Designs
  • Linking Change to the Experience of Life Events
  • Results from Recent Longitudinal Studies
  • New Innovations in Research on Life Events
  • Conclusions
  • References

Chapter 8. Increasing Happiness by Well-Being Therapy

  • Introduction
  • The Concepts of Happiness and Well-being in Clinical Psychology
  • Increasing Happiness by Targeted Interventions: Is “Happier Always Better”?
  • The Structure of Well-being Therapy
  • Well-being Therapy: Clinical Considerations
  • WBT: Validation Studies
  • Are Psychotherapy-Induced Modifications in Well-being Enduring?
  • Conclusions
  • References

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

  • Introduction
  • Data
  • Method
  • Results: More Advance than Decline in All Series
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix 9.1 Example of a Presentation of Findings on Average Happiness in Nations
  • Appendix 9.2 Data Matrix
  • References

Chapter 10. Set Point Theory and Public Policy

  • Point-of-Time Evidence: 21 European Countries, 2007
  • Time Series Evidence: China Since 1990
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgments
  • Appendix 10.1
  • References

Chapter 11. Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness

  • Introduction
  • Hedonic Adaptation
  • A Life Course Perspective on SWB
  • (External) Conditions Affecting Subjective Well-Being
  • Conclusions
  • References

Chapter 12. Personality Traits as Potential Moderators of Well-Being: Setting a Foundation for Future Research

  • Personality Change as Support for Well-being Change: The Cases of Extraversion and Neuroticism
  • Revisiting the “Happy Personality”: Linking Traits and Subjective Well-being
  • Personality as a Predictor of Well-being Trajectories
  • Specific Traits as Potential Moderators
  • Conclusions and Final Thoughts
  • References

Chapter 13. Statistical Models for Analyzing Stability and Change in Happiness

  • Direct versus Indirect Assessment
  • Individual Change versus Mean Change
  • Overview
  • Psychometric Models for Analyzing Variability and Change
  • Models with Life Events
  • Discussion
  • References

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

  • Future Directions
  • Conclusions
  • References


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© Academic Press 2014
2nd July 2014
Academic Press
Hardcover ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Editors

Kennon Sheldon

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

Richard E. Lucas

Affiliations and Expertise

Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Ratings and Reviews