Happiness Maximization Is a WEIRD Way of Living.

Type of content
Journal Article
Thesis discipline
Degree name
SAGE Publications
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Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Krys , Kuba
Kostoula , Olga
van Tilburg , Wijnand A.P.
Mosca , Oriana
Lee , J. Hannah
Maricchiolo , Fridanna
Kosiarczyk , Aleksandra
Kocimska-Bortnowska , Agata
Torres , Claudio
Hitokoto , Hidefumi

Psychological science tends to treat subjective well-being and happiness synonymously. We start from the assumption that subjective well-being is more than being happy to ask the fundamental question: What is the ideal level of happiness? From a cross-cultural perspective, we propose that the idealization of attaining maximum levels of happiness may be especially characteristic of Western, educated, industrial, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) societies but less so for others. Searching for an explanation for why "happiness maximization" might have emerged in these societies, we turn to studies linking cultures to their eco-environmental habitat. We discuss the premise that WEIRD cultures emerged in an exceptionally benign ecological habitat (i.e., faced relatively light existential pressures compared with other regions). We review the influence of the Gulf Stream on the Northwestern European climate as a source of these comparatively benign geographical conditions. We propose that the ecological conditions in which WEIRD societies emerged afforded them a basis to endorse happiness as a value and to idealize attaining its maximum level. To provide a nomological network for happiness maximization, we also studied some of its potential side effects, namely alcohol and drug consumption and abuse and the prevalence of mania. To evaluate our hypothesis, we reanalyze data from two large-scale studies on ideal levels of personal life satisfaction-the most common operationalization of happiness in psychology-involving respondents from 61 countries. We conclude that societies whose members seek to maximize happiness tend to be characterized as WEIRD, and generalizing this across societies can prove problematic if adopted at the ideological and policy level.

Krys K, Kostoula O, van Tilburg WAP, Mosca O, Lee JH, Maricchiolo F, Kosiarczyk A, Kocimska-Bortnowska A, Torres C, Hitokoto H, Liew K, Bond MH, Lun VM-C, Vignoles VL, Zelenski JM, Haas BW, Park J, Vauclair C-M, Kwiatkowska A, Roczniewska M, Witoszek N, Işık ID, Kosakowska-Berezecka N, Domínguez-Espinosa A, Yeung JC, Górski M, Adamovic M, Albert I, Pavlopoulos V, Fülöp M, Sirlopu D, Okvitawanli A, Boer D, Teyssier J, Malyonova A, Gavreliuc A, Serdarevich U, Akotia CS, Appoh L, Mira DMA, Baltin A, Denoux P, Esteves CS, Gamsakhurdia V, Garðarsdóttir RB, Igbokwe DO, Igou ER, Kascakova N, Klůzová Kracˇmárová L, Kronberger N, Barrientos PE, Mohoricć T, Murdock E, Mustaffa NF, Nader M, Nadi A, van Osch Y, Pavlović Z, Polácˇková Šolcová I, Rizwan M, Romashov V, Røysamb E, Sargautyte R, Schwarz B, Selecká L, Selim HA, Stogianni M, Sun C-R, Wojtczuk-Turek A, Xing C, Uchida Y (2024). Happiness Maximization Is a WEIRD Way of Living.. Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. 17456916231208367-.
culture, happiness, life satisfaction, society, subjective well-being
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
52 - Psychology::5205 - Social and personality psychology
52 - Psychology::5204 - Cognitive and computational psychology::520499 - Cognitive and computational psychology not elsewhere classified
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