Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 521–537

The Happy-Productive Worker Thesis Revisited

  • John M. Zelenski
  • Steven A. Murphy
  • David A. Jenkins
Research paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10902-008-9087-4

Cite this article as:
Zelenski, J.M., Murphy, S.A. & Jenkins, D.A. J Happiness Stud (2008) 9: 521. doi:10.1007/s10902-008-9087-4


Despite extensive research on the subject spanning over 70 years, uncertainty still remains as to whether happier workers are in fact more productive. This study combined longitudinal prospective and experience sampling methods to examine the relationship between happiness and self-reported productivity among Directors employed in the public and private sectors. Analyses at a trait level suggested happy people were more productive. Similarly, at the state level of analysis, people were more productive when they were happier. Among the happiness indicators examined (job satisfaction, quality of work life, life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect) positive affect was most strongly, but not exclusively, tied to productivity at both the state and trait levels. Discussion focuses on reconciling a long history of mixed findings regarding the happy-productive worker thesis.


ProductivityPositive affectNegative affectJob satisfactionLife satisfactionQuality of work lifeHappinessEmotionsPersonalityExperience sampling

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Zelenski
    • 1
  • Steven A. Murphy
    • 2
  • David A. Jenkins
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Sprott School of BusinessCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Public Works and Government Services CanadaOttawaCanada