By Brad Bell
Social interest is an important personality characteristic that reflects an interest in others and being concerned about others. People who are high in social interest are likely to value being sympathetic, considerate, and helpful. Social relationships are important to many people. They may be a primary source of happiness and meaning in life. Social interest may be related to happiness because our lives seem more meaningful. Feeling connected to others and concerned about others may be a primary source of finding meaning in life.
Crandall (1980) found that among college students there was a statistically significant positive correlation between social interest and happiness for two measures of happiness. (1) Thus, greater social interest was associated with greater happiness. However, because these findings are correlational, we cannot make causal conclusions from the findings. There may be other variables that could explain the relation between social interest and happiness. (2)
1. There was a significant positive correlation between social interest and happiness for both measures of happiness in the total sample. However, only one of the two happiness measures was significantly correlated with social interest among men. Moreover, only one of the two happiness measures was significantly correlated with social interest among women. The measure of happiness that was significantly correlated with social interest among men was different from the measure of happiness that was significantly correlated with social interest for women.
2. See Crandall’s article for information on other findings.
Crandall, J. E. (1980). Adler’s concept of social interest: Theory, measurement, and implications for adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 481-495.
By Brad Bell
Parks are beautiful and tranquil places. Consequently, a walk in a park might might foster greater happiness. In their second study, Hartig, Mang, and Evans (1991) had participants either take a walk in a park, a walk in an urban setting, or read magazines for forty minutes in a laboratory setting (relaxation condition). All the participants completed tasks for 40 minutes that were intended to produce cognitive fatigue. These tasks occurred prior to taking the walk or the relaxation condition. They found that overall happiness was somewhat higher for people who took a walk in the park than for people who took a walk in the urban setting or participated in the relaxation condition. They reported that the natural environment group differed significantly from the other two group with respect to overall happiness. (1) These findings may have some important implications. A walk in a park may foster greater happiness than a walk in an urban setting or just relaxing (e.g., reading a magazine).
1. See their article for more information about the study and other findings.
Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G. W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior, 23, 3-26.
By Brad Bell
We may see lottery winners as quite ecstatic on television. However, we may not see how happy they are at a later time. Can money buy happiness? Would they still be as happy as they were when they first learned the news? Could they adapt to their new situation and return to the same level of happiness they had before winning the lottery? Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman (1978) asked lottery winners, accident victims who were paralyzed, and a control group about their happiness. All of the lottery winners in the study had won 50,000 dollars or more. Seven of the 22 lottery winners in the study had won 1 million dollars. There was no statistically significant difference between the lottery winners and the control group with respect to how happy they were at this stage of their lives. Moreover, the difference between the lottery winners and the control group with respect to how happy thought they would be in a couple of years was not statistically significant. It is interesting that the lottery winners did not judge how happy they would be in a couple of years as higher than the accident victims! (1)
The findings are consistent with the idea that the relation between money and happiness is not linear. Increases in the amount of money you have may not, in some situations (e.g., winning the lottery), increase your happiness.
These findings may also suggest that happiness may be relative. We may not be able to reach a higher level of happiness as a result of winning the lottery. Winning the lottery may simply raise our standards.
1. See their article for other findings.
Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery
winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 917-927.