Can happiness be taught? The effects on subjective wellbeing of attending a course in positive psychology that includes the practice of multiple interventions.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Previous research has shown that humankind is not becoming happier, and that in fact symptoms of depression continue to rise, despite the belief of many that happiness is the ultimate purpose of human life. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether happiness can be taught through an intervention programme aimed at increasing levels of subjective wellbeing as measured by scales of self-reported happiness and depression. Participants attending a course based on research into Positive Psychology that included the practice of multiple validated interventions made up the experimental group (N=33), and participants in other community education courses made up the control group (N=41). A pre-intervention, post-intervention and follow-up design was used, with participants completing sets of questionnaires designed to test levels of happiness and depression, and additional questionnaires capturing demographic information and signature character strengths. The results of this study suggested that the intervention had a positive effect on increasing happiness and reducing symptoms of depression. The non-randomised groups resulted in a more depressed experimental than control group prior to the intervention. Generally speaking, it was not true that any subgroup benefited more from the intervention than others, nor were happier or more depressed than others. This study appears to support earlier research that found that subjective wellbeing could be increased through education and volitional behaviour. Implications for the findings are discussed in relation to group education and therapeutic intervention both for increasing happiness as well as reducing symptoms of depression.