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Pursuing pleasure or virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives

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Hedonia (seeking pleasure and comfort) and eudaimonia (seeking to use and develop the best in oneself) are often seen as opposing pursuits, yet each may contribute to well-being in different ways. We conducted four studies (two correlational, one experience-sampling, and one intervention study) to determine outcomes associated with activities motivated by hedonic and eudaimonic aims. Overall, results indicated that: between persons (at the trait level) and within persons (at the momentary state level), hedonic pursuits related more to positive affect and carefreeness, while eudaimonic pursuits related more to meaning; between persons, eudaimonia related more to elevating experience (awe, inspiration, and sense of connection with a greater whole); within persons, hedonia related more negatively to negative affect; between and within persons, both pursuits related equally to vitality; and both pursuits showed some links with life satisfaction, though hedonia’s links were more frequent. People whose lives were high in both eudaimonia and hedonia had: higher degrees of most well-being variables than people whose lives were low in both pursuits (but did not differ in negative affect or carefreeness); higher positive affect and carefreeness than predominantly eudaimonic individuals; and higher meaning, elevating experience, and vitality than predominantly hedonic individuals. In the intervention study, hedonia produced more well-being benefits at short-term follow-up, while eudaimonia produced more at 3-month follow-up. The findings show that hedonia and eudaimonia occupy both overlapping and distinct niches within a complete picture of wellbeing, and their combination may be associated with the greatest well-being.
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... Classical philosophers, including Aristippus, considered "hedonia" a form of maximizing positive affect and comfort, while diminishing distress and pain [4]. Thus, hedonia can lead to vitality and relief from negative affect. ...
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... Thus, whereas hedonic and eudaimonic motives serve different aspects of well-being, they are equally essential for achieving it. Hedonia contributes to self-regulation, promotes positive and minimizes negative affect [4], and allows the individual to disengage from negative concerns. ...
Chapter
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