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Happiness is the Frequency, Not the Intensity, of Positive Versus Negative Affect

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Abstract

In this chapter we suggest that “happiness,” or high subjective wellbeing, is more strongly associated with the frequency and duration of people’s positive feelings, not with the intensity of those feelings. People who rarely or never feel euphoria, for instance, can nonetheless report very high levels of well-being. We hypothesize that there are several reasons that subjective well-being is more strongly associated with the amount of time people feel positive versus negative feelings rather than with the intensity of their positive feelings. Intense positive feelings often have costs, including a tendency to more intense negative feelings in negative situations. Another hypothesis is that it is more difficult to accurately measure the intensity of feelings than their time-course, and this makes the amount of time people feel positive more amenable to study with self-report methods. The intensity of people’s positive emotions should not be ignored, but should be studied in combination with the time-course (frequency and duration) of positive and negative feelings.
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Druckausgabe:
Subjective well-being : an interdisciplinary perspective / ed. by Fritz Strack .... - 1. ed.
. - Oxford u.a. : Pergamon Press, 1991. - VIII, 291 S. : graph. Darst. . - ISBN: 0-08-
037264-3. - (International series in experimental social psychology ; 21)
Fritz Strack, Michael Argyle, Norbert Schwarz (Eds.)
Subjective well-being
an interdisciplinary perspective
Subjective Well-Being
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVE
INTERNATIONAL SERIES IN EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
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Subjective
Well-Being
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVE
Edited by
Fritz Strack, Michael Argyle
and Norbert Schwarz
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First edition 1991
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Subjective well-being / edited by Fritz Strack,
Michael Argyle, and Norbert Schwarz. — 1st ed.
p. cm. — (International series in experimental social
psychology; v. 21)
Includes bibliographical references.
1. Happiness. I. Strack, Fritz, 1950-
II. Argyle, Michael.
III. Schwarz, Norbert, Dr. phil. IV. Series.
BF575. H27S82 1990 158—dc20 90-34742
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Subjective well-being. — (International series in
experimental social psychology)
1. Happiness
I. Strack, Fritz II. Argyle, Michael 1925
III. Schwarz, Norbert IV. Series
152. 4
ISBN 0-08-037264-3
Front cover illustration by Penny Berry Paterson
Printed in Great Britain by BPCC Wheatons Ltd., Exeteter
Contents
List of Contributors
vii
1. Introduction
FRITZ STRACK, MICHAEL ARGYLE AND NORBERT SCHWARZ
1
General Perspectives
2. Questions on happiness: classical topics, modern answers,
blind spots
RUUT VEENHOVEN
7
3. Evaluating one's life: a judgment model of
subjective well-being
NORBERT SCHWARZ AND FRITZ STRACK
27
4. Subjective well-being: a stocks and flows framework
BRUCE HEADEY AND ALEXANDER WEARING
49
The Dynamics of Subjective Well-Being
5. The psychological causes of happiness
MICHAEL ARGYLE AND MARYANNE MARTIN
77
6.
Endowment and contrast in judgments of well-being
AMOS TVERSKY AND DALE GRIFFIN
101
7.
Happiness is the frequency, not the intensity, of positive
versus negative affect
ED DIENER, ED SANDVIK AND WILLIAM PAVOT
119
8.
The relationship between life satisfaction and psychosocial
variables: new perspectives
PETER LEWINSOHN, JULIE REDNER AND JOHN SEELEY
141
v
vi Contents
Subjective Weil-Being in its Social Cont