Project

Demographic Factors in Subjective Well-Being

Goal: To understand the impact of demographic factors like income, parental status, and relationship status on well-being.

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Kostadin Kushlev
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Abstract: Although hospitality is a valued social and cultural phenomenon, it has been largely overlooked in the psychology research literature. Our studies are designed to advance the understanding of hospitality by creating a brief measure of it that can be used across cultures. In Study 1, we employed a large sample of Americans to create and begin validation of a measure of hospitality: The Brief Hospitality Scale, or BHS. In all nations and both studies the scale had a single strong factor and high internal consistency. In Study 2, we administered the measure to respondents from 11 nations and found that people in some countries (e.g. Iran) are significantly more hospitable than are people in others (e.g. Singapore). The strongest personality correlates of hospitality were those associated with social characteristics, such as extraversion, agreeableness, and feelings of group belonging. The very strongest association with hospitality was ability to take the perspective of others. Thus, hospitality represents more than simple sociability, and seems to rest on feelings of togetherness with others, concern for their well-being, and positive feelings toward them. We found in both studies that hospitality is associated with higher levels of well-being, for example optimism, psychosocial flourishing, and positive affect.
Kostadin Kushlev
added a research item
Are people who spend more time with others always happier than those who spend less time in social activities? Across four studies with more than 250,000 participants, we show that social time has declining marginal utility for subjective well-being. In Study 1 (N = 243,075), we use the Gallup World Poll with people from 166 countries, and in Study 2 (N = 10,387) the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), to show that social time has declining returns for well-being. In Study 3a (N = 168) and Study 3b (N = 174), we employ the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) to provide initial evidence for both intra-domain (principle of diminishing satisfaction) and inter-domain mechanisms (principle of satisfaction limits). We discuss implications for theory, research methodology, and practice.
Kostadin Kushlev
added a project goal
To understand the impact of demographic factors like income, parental status, and relationship status on well-being.
 
Kostadin Kushlev
added a research item
Income inequality has become one of the more widely debated social issues today. The current article explores the role of progressive taxation in income inequality and happiness. Using historical data in the United States from 1962 to 2014, we found that income inequality was substantially smaller in years when the income tax was more progressive (i.e., a higher tax rate for higher income brackets), even when controlling for variables like stock market performance and unemployment rate. Time lag analyses further showed that higher progressive taxation predicted increasingly lower income inequality up to 5 years later. Data from the General Social Survey (1972–2014; N = 59,599) with U.S. residents (hereafter referred to as “Americans”) showed that during years with higher progressive taxation rates, less wealthy Americans—those in the lowest 40% of the income distribution—tended to be happier, whereas the richest 20% were not significantly less happy. Mediational analyses confirmed that the association of progressive taxation with the happiness of less wealthy Americans can be explained by lower income inequality in years with higher progressive taxation. A separate sample of Americans polled online (N = 373) correctly predicted the positive association between progressive taxation and the happiness of poorer Americans but incorrectly expected a strong negative association between progressive taxation and the happiness of richer Americans.
Kostadin Kushlev
added 4 research items
Recent scholarly and media accounts paint a portrait of unhappy parents who find remarkably little joy in taking care of their children, but the scientific basis for these claims remains inconclusive. In the three studies reported here, we used a strategy of converging evidence to test whether parents evaluate their lives more positively than do nonparents (Study 1), feel relatively better than do nonparents on a day-to-day basis (Study 2), and derive more positive feelings from caring for their children than from other daily activities (Study 3). The results indicate that, contrary to previous reports, parents (and especially fathers) report relatively higher levels of happiness, positive emotion, and meaning in life than do nonparents.
A controversial feature of modern parenting is ''child-centrism,'' the tendency for parents to prioritize their children's well-being above their own. It has been suggested that child-centric parenting in its various forms may undermine parental well-being. Con-trary to popular belief, more child-centric parents reported deriving more happiness and meaning from parenthood (Study 1). Study 2 employed the day reconstruction method (Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004) to capture parents' actual experiences while taking care of their children. Consistent with Study 1, greater child-centrism was associated with the experience of greater positive affect, less negative affect, and greater meaning in life when engaged in child care activities. This link between child-centrism and well-being stands in contrast to recent arguments about the pitfalls of overinvestment in children, while dovetailing with a growing body of evidence that personal well-being is associated with investing in others rather than oneself. A controversial approach to parenting is the placement of one's children at the center of family life, where they receive the lion's share of the family's social, financial, and emotional resources. Several authors have argued that prioritizing the needs and wants of one's children to the detriment of one's own undermines par-ental well-being (Hodgkinson, 2009; Liedloff, 1975; Senior, 2010; Skenazy, 2009). Casting doubt on this perspective, a growing body of evidence suggests that when we invest in the well-being of others, we experience greater well-being our-selves. The goal of the present research is to examine the rela-tionship between what we term child-centric parenting and the well-being (positive affect [PA] and negative affect [NA] and meaning) that parents derive from their children. Child-Centrism
Kostadin Kushlev
added a research item
Kushlev, Dunn, and Lucas (2015) found that income predicts less daily sadness—but not greater happiness—among Americans. The present study used longitudinal data from an approximately representative German sample to replicate and extend these findings. Our results largely replicated Kushlev et al.’s results: Income predicted less daily sadness (albeit with a smaller effect size) but was unrelated to happiness. Moreover, the association between income and sadness could not be explained by demographics, stress, or daily time use. Extending Kushlev et al.’s findings, new analyses indicated that only between-persons variance in income (but not within-persons variance) predicted daily sadness—perhaps because there was relatively little within-persons variance in income. Finally, income predicted less daily sadness and worry, but not less anger or frustration—potentially suggesting that income predicts less “internalizing” but not less “externalizing” negative emotions. Together, our study and Kushlev et al.’s study provide evidence that income robustly predicts select daily negative emotions—but not positive ones.