Social Indicators Research

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 235–267 | Cite as

Commitment beyond self and adolescence: The issue of happiness

  • Zipora Magen


Is there a link between adolescents' experience of joy and fulfillment and their increased openness and commitment to the world and other human beings? A series of comparative studies was conducted investigating different adolescent samples according to cultural background (American Christians, Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs), socio-economic status (low, high, disadvantaged), religiosity (observant, secular), and exceptionality (hearing impaired) and at different stages of prosocial involvement (non-involved, registered, and involved volunteers). Over and above group differences, the findings from all samples demonstrated that adolescents who realize positive experiences in greater depth and intensity, are also differentiated by a stronger desire to contribute to society and/or to be devoted to some aim beyond self. Implications for educators in fostering the social responsibility and self-fulfillment of young people from different backgrounds were discussed.


Young People Social Responsibility Great Depth Cultural Background Positive Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackrill, J. L.: 1973, Aristotle's Ethics (Faber and Faber, London).Google Scholar
  2. Adler, A.: 1964, Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind (Capricorn, New York).Google Scholar
  3. Antonovsky, A.: 1987, Unravelling the Mystery of Health (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  4. Aristotle: 1985, Nichomachean Ethics (T. Irwin, Trans.). Hackett, Indianapolis, IN (Original work—4th century B.C.).Google Scholar
  5. Aron, A. and E. N., Aron: 1986, Love and the Expansion of Self (Hemisphere, New York).Google Scholar
  6. Bar-Tal, D.: 1982, ‘Segmental development of helping behavior: A cognitive learning model’, Development Review 2, pp. 101–124.Google Scholar
  7. Batson, C. D.: 1990, ‘How social an animal? The human capacity for caring’, American Psychologist 45, pp. 336–346.Google Scholar
  8. Batson, C. D., J. L., Dyck, J. R., Brandt, J. G., Batson, A. L., Powell, M. R., McMaster, and C., Griffitt: 1988, ‘Five studies testing two new egoistic alternatives to the empathy-altruism hypothesis’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 55, pp. 52–77.Google Scholar
  9. Batson, C. D. and L. L., Shaw: 1991, ‘Evidence for altruism: Toward a pluralism of prosocial motives’, Psychological Inquiry 2, pp. 107–122.Google Scholar
  10. Blos, P.: 1979, The Adolescent Passage: Developmental Issues (International Universities Press, New York).Google Scholar
  11. Buber, M.: 1961, Between Man and Man (Collins, London).Google Scholar
  12. Buber, M.: 1965, The Knowledge of Man: A Philosophy of the Interhuman (M., Friedman, Trans. and Ed.) (Allen and Unwin, London).Google Scholar
  13. Cattell, R. B. and M. D. L., Cattell: 1975, Handbook for the High School Personality Questionnaire: HSPQ (Institute of Personality and Ability Testing, Champaign, IL).Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, A., M., Schmida, and I., Ferman: 1985, ‘The personal involvement project: Differences between volunteering and non-volunteering high school pupils’, Megamot Behavioral Sciences Quarterly 29, pp. 216–222 (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  15. Conger, J. J. and A. C., Petersen: 1984, Adolescence and Youth (Harper and Row, New York).Google Scholar
  16. Diener, E.: 1990, ‘Happiness is the frequency not the intensity of positive versus negative affect’, in F., Strak, M., Argyle, and M., Schwartz (eds.), Subjective Well-Being: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Pergamon, New York), pp. 119–136.Google Scholar
  17. Diener, E.: 1994, ‘Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities’, Social Indicators Research 31, pp. 103–157.Google Scholar
  18. Diener, E., E. M., Suh, H., Smith, and L., Shao: 1995, ‘National differences in reported subjective well-being: Why do they occur?’, Social Indicators Research 34, pp. 7–32.Google Scholar
  19. Eisenberg, N., R. A., Fabes, P. A., Miller, J., Fultz, R., Shell, R. M., Mathy, and R. R., Reno: 1989, ‘Relation of sympathy and personal distress to prosocial behavior: A multimethod study’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57, pp. 55–66.Google Scholar
  20. Eisenberg, N. and P. A., Miller: 1987, ‘The relation of empathy to prosocial and related behavior’, Psychological Bulletin 101, pp. 91–119.Google Scholar
  21. Erikson, E. H.: 1969, Identity, Youth, and Crisis (Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York).Google Scholar
  22. Fox, D. J.: 1969, The Research Process in Education (Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York).Google Scholar
  23. Frankl, V.: 1985, Psychotherapy and Existentialism (Washington Square Press, New York).Google Scholar
  24. Frick, W.: 1983, ‘The symbolic growth experience’, Journal of Humanistic Psychology 22, pp. 108–125.Google Scholar
  25. Headey, B., E., Holmstrom, and A., Wearing: 1984, ‘The impact of life events and changes in domain satisfaction on well-being’, Social Indicators Research 15, pp. 203–227.Google Scholar
  26. Headey, B. and A., Wearing: 1989, ‘Personality, life events and subjective well-being’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57, pp. 731–739.Google Scholar
  27. Isen, A. M., K. A., Daubman, and G. P., Nowicki: 1987, ‘Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52, pp. 1122–1131.Google Scholar
  28. Isen, A. M. and P. E., Levin: 1972, ‘The effect of feeling on good helping cookies and kindness’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 21, pp. 384–388.Google Scholar
  29. Jourard, S. M. and T., Landsman: 1980, Healthy Personality: An Approach from the Viewpoint of Humanistic Psychology (MacMillan, New York).Google Scholar
  30. Kant, I.: 1949, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals (Liberal Arts Press, New York).Google Scholar
  31. Klein, G.: 1972, ‘Fostering commitment in today's world’, Humanities 8, pp. 37–54.Google Scholar
  32. Kohlberg, L.: 1971, ‘The adolescent as a philosopher’, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fall, pp. 1051–1086.Google Scholar
  33. Kraut, R.: 1979, ‘Two conceptions of happiness’, Philosophical Review 87, pp. 167–196.Google Scholar
  34. Landsman, T.: 1969, ‘The beautiful person’, Futurist 3, pp. 41–42.Google Scholar
  35. Landsman, T.: 1977, ‘Psychology as the science of behavior and experiences’, in D. Q., Nevill (ed.), Humanistic Psychology: New Frontiers (Gardner, New York), pp. 21–34.Google Scholar
  36. Magen, Z.: 1982, ‘The pertinence of joy’, The Humanist 42, pp. 22–26.Google Scholar
  37. Magen, Z.: 1983a, ‘Re-forming the boundaries: A trans-cultural comparison of positive experiences among adolescent males and females’, Adolescence 18, pp. 851–858.Google Scholar
  38. Magen, Z.: 1983b, ‘Transpersonal commitments in adolescence: A cross-cultural perspective’, Journal of Humanistic Psychology 23, pp. 96–112.Google Scholar
  39. Magen, Z.: 1985, ‘Cross-cultural personality correlates of intensity and content category of positive experience’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 49, pp. 1631–1642.Google Scholar
  40. Magen, Z.: 1990a, ‘Positive experiences and life aspirations among adolescents with and without hearing impairments’, International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 37, pp. 57–69.Google Scholar
  41. Magen, Z.: 1990b, Prosocial commitments of Jewish and Arab adolescents in Israel: A follow-up study (Unpublished manuscript, School of Education, Tel Aviv University).Google Scholar
  42. Magen, Z. and R., Aharoni: 1991, ‘Adolescents' contributing toward others: Relationship to positive experiences and transpersonal commitment’, Journal of Humanistic Psychology 31, pp. 126–143.Google Scholar
  43. Magen, Z., M., Birenbaum, and T., Ilovich: 1992, ‘Adolescents from disadvantaged neighborhoods: Personality characteristics as related to volunteer involvement’, International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling 15, pp. 47–59.Google Scholar
  44. Magen, Z. and V. Offek: 1993, February, Personal commitment in high schools: A comparison of voluntary versus mandatory involvement (Paper presented at the annual conference of the Israel Educational Research Association (AYALA), Haifa (In Hebrew)).Google Scholar
  45. Magen, Z. and D. Pery: 1990, August, Positive and negative experiences of adolescents and young adults (Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association, Boston).Google Scholar
  46. Maslow, A. H.: 1970, Motivation and Personality, 2nd ed. (Harper and Row, New York).Google Scholar
  47. Maslow, A. H.: 1971, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature (Viking Press, New York).Google Scholar
  48. Mathes, E. W. and M. A., Jerom: 1982, ‘Peak experiences tendencies: Scale development and theory testing’, Journal of Humanistic Psychology 22, pp. 93–106.Google Scholar
  49. McDowell, J.: 1980, ‘The role of eudaimonia in Aristotle's ethics’, in A. O., Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics (University of California Press, Berkeley, CA), pp. 359–376.Google Scholar
  50. Michalos, A. C.: 1985, ‘Multiple discrepancies theory (MDT)’, Social Indicators Research 16, pp. 347–413.Google Scholar
  51. Patterson, J. M. and H. I., McCubbin: 1987, ‘Adolescent coping style and behaviors: Conceptualization and measurement’, Journal of Adolescence 10, pp. 163–180.Google Scholar
  52. Pazy, A.: 1985, ‘A developmental approach to variability in experience of self’, Journal of Humanistic Psychology 25, pp. 64–82.Google Scholar
  53. Portowitz, P.: 1983, ‘Al arachim umitnadvim [On values and volunteers]’, Bitaon Hamercaz Lesharautay Hitnadvut (Rep. No. 2) (Tel Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel).Google Scholar
  54. Privette, G. and T., Landsman: 1983, ‘Farther analysis of peak performance: The full use of potential’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 44, pp. 195–200.Google Scholar
  55. Reker, G. T.: 1994, ‘Logotheory and logotherapy: Challenges, opportunities and some empirical findings’, The International Forum for Logotherapy 17, pp. 47–55.Google Scholar
  56. Robin, B.: 1980, Happiness and Schooling (St. Martin's Press, New York).Google Scholar
  57. Rogers, C.: 1977, Carl Rogers on Personal Power (Delacorte, New York).Google Scholar
  58. Russell, B.: 1975, The Conquest of Happiness (Allen and Unwin, London).Google Scholar
  59. Smilansky, M.: 1991, Between Adolescents and Parents (Psychological and Educational Publishers, Gaithersburg, MD).Google Scholar
  60. Snyder, C. R., R. L., Higgins, and R. J., Stuckey: 1983, Excuse: Masquerades in Search of Grace (Wiley, New York).Google Scholar
  61. Stones, M. J. and A., Kozma: 1994, ‘The relationship of affect intensity to happiness’, Social Indicators Research 31, pp. 159–173.Google Scholar
  62. Tartarkiewicz, W.: 1976, Analysis of Happiness (Nijhoff, The Hague).Google Scholar
  63. Veenhoven, R.: 1991, ‘Is happiness relative?’, Social Indicators Research 24, pp. 1–34.Google Scholar
  64. Veenhoven, R.: 1995, ‘The cross-national pattern of happiness: Test of predictions implied in three theories of happiness’, Social Indicators Research 34, pp. 33–68.Google Scholar
  65. Waterman, A. S.: 1993, ‘Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 64, pp. 678–691.Google Scholar
  66. Williamson, G. M. and M. S., Clark: 1989, ‘Providing help and desired relationship type as determinants of changes in moods and self-evaluations’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 56, pp. 722–734.Google Scholar
  67. Wong, P. T. P. and G. T., Reker: 1984 ‘Psychological and physical well-being in the elderly: The perceived well-being scale’, Canadian Journal of Aging 3, pp. 23–32.Google Scholar
  68. Wright, B.: 1994, The Moral Animal: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (Pantheon Books, New York).Google Scholar
  69. Wuthnow, R.: 1978, ‘Peak experiences: Some empirical tests’, Journal of Humanistic Psychology 18, pp. 59–75.Google Scholar
  70. Ziv, A.: 1984, Hitbagrut [Adolescence] (Massada (In Hebrew.), Tel Aviv).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zipora Magen
    • 1
  1. 1.Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael

Personalised recommendations