The key to happiness depends on how you ideally want to feel and the activities you engage in

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Does wanting to feel happy alter your likelihood of actually feeling happy? Empirical answers to this question are mixed, in part because they do not differentiate among the different types of happiness that people ideally want to feel (e.g., excitement vs. calm) or among the types of activities people engage in (e.g., exciting vs. calming). To address these limitations, we conducted four studies in which participants recalled (Study 1) and actually engaged in (Studies 2-4) exciting and calming activities. Across studies, we found support for the "enhancement" hypothesis when people valued calm states: the more participants valued calm states, the more they recalled enjoying calming (but not exciting) events (Study 1), and the more they anticipated and actually enjoyed calming activities (amusement rides and exercise) immediately after (on-line) and several days later (recalled) (Studies 2-4). The findings for valuing excitement, however, were mixed: the more participants valued excitement, the more they recalled enjoying exciting (but not calming) events (Study 1) and the more they anticipated enjoying an exciting amusement park ride (Study 3). Valuing excitement, however, was not significantly correlated with on-line or recalled enjoyment of exciting activities (Studies 2-4). These findings suggest that valuing calm (and engaging in calming activities) may be an easier path to enhancing happiness than valuing excitement.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2013
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Chim, Louise
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Psychology.
Primary advisor Tsai, Jeanne Ling
Thesis advisor Tsai, Jeanne Ling
Thesis advisor Gross, James
Thesis advisor Markus, Hazel Rose
Advisor Gross, James
Advisor Markus, Hazel Rose


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Louise Chim.
Note Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2013.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2013 by Louise Suewan Chim
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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