Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 919–933 | Cite as

Pursuing Eudaimonic Functioning Versus Pursuing Hedonic Well-Being: The First Goal Succeeds in Its Aim, Whereas the Second Does Not

  • Kennon M. Sheldon
  • Mike CorcoranEmail author
  • Mike Prentice
Research Paper


We used a new methodology for assessing change motivation (Hudson and Fraley 2015, 2016) to test the hypothesis that striving to improve one’s hedonic well-being fails in its aim, whereas striving to improve one’s eudaimonic functioning succeeds. In three studies, participant goals to increase subjective well-being (SWB) were negatively correlated with concurrent SWB, whereas goals to increase relative intrinsic versus extrinsic value orientation (RIEVO) were positively correlated with concurrent RIEVO. In Study 3’s longitudinal investigation, Time 1 RIEVO change goals predicted increased RIEVO six and 12 weeks later, whereas Time 1 SWB change goals did not affect longitudinal SWB. Together, the data support the Aristotelian idea that people should pursue eudaimonia rather than happiness, not least because the latter pursuit may not be as effective.


Subjective well-being Eudaimonia Hedonia Change goals Eudaimonic activity model 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kennon M. Sheldon
    • 1
  • Mike Corcoran
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mike Prentice
    • 3
  1. 1.International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of EconomicsUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Wake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

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