Title: The determinants of happiness

Authors: Robert A. Cummins

Addresses: School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood Vic 3125, Australia

Abstract: Measures of mood happiness are increasingly used to assess the development and progress of nations. The limitations of this approach are, however, considerable. Within developed nations population happiness is quite resistant to change, despite major improvements in the objective standard of living. The reason, we propose, is that levels of subjective wellbeing are psychologically managed for each person, to be held around their genetically determined 'set-point'. This homeostatic management system acts to keep people feeling normally positive about them self, and so resists change. Thus, the search for 'happiness determinants' in the form of objective circumstances is often unrewarding in normally functioning samples. Due to homeostatic resistance, changes in objective variables will have weak effects on mood happiness. If large changes in mood happiness are found, they can be attributed to homeostatic failure and represent pathology.

Keywords: theory; national development; mood happiness; subjective well-being; SWB; progress; homeostasis; measurement; resilience; life satisfaction; psychology; genetic determination; homeostatic management; positive feelings; happiness determinants.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2012.050833

International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2012 Vol.1 No.1, pp.86 - 101

Received: 03 Aug 2012
Accepted: 05 Sep 2012

Published online: 23 Nov 2012 *

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