Advertisement

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 1323–1341 | Cite as

Hedonic and Eudaimonic Motives: Associations with Academic Achievement and Negative Emotional States Among Urban College Students

  • Maria Kryza-Lacombe
  • Elise Tanzini
  • Sarah O’NeillEmail author
Research Paper

Abstract

College students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds are at risk for poorer academic outcomes and greater psychopathology and it is important to identify factors that are amenable to intervention and enhance college outcomes. Recent literature has entertained happiness as a potential predictor of various success outcomes and it has been suggested that parsing the concept of happiness into hedonia (seeking pleasure and relaxation) and eudaimonia (seeking meaning) may be particularly useful. This study examined the relations between hedonic and eudaimonic motives for action and student outcomes; that is, academic achievement and their negative emotional states, in an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse urban college population. Undergraduate students (N = 119; mean age = 21.24 [SD = 3.16] years; 59.7% female) completed self-reported measures of hedonic and eudaimonic motives for action, and depression, anxiety, and stress. Semester GPA was collected from school records. Hedonic motives for action (“Hedonia”) were not associated with GPA or students’ negative emotional states. Eudaimonic motives for action (“Eudaimonia”), however, were significantly positively associated with GPA, Individuals with high levels of both Hedonia and Eudaimonia (the Full Life) had higher GPAs compared to individuals with low Eudaimonia, but did not differ from students with high Eudaimonia and low Hedonia (Eudaimonic Life). Eudaimonia was also significantly negatively associated with Depression and Stress, and individuals high in Eudaimonia had the lowest levels of both of these outcomes compared to those with low Eudaimonia. Eudaimonic motives may be important for more desirable college outcomes, and interventions that promote development of this domain may hold promise.

Keywords

Hedonia Eudaimonia College Academic success Stress Psychological distress 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the research assistants of the O’Neill lab for their assistance in data collection, Georg Matt, Ph.D., for his consultations on statistical analysis, and Jillian Lee Wiggins, Ph.D., for her comments on an early version of the manuscript. We thank the students for participating.

Funding

This publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number SC2HD086868 (PI: Sarah O’Neill, PhD). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest

References

  1. Acee, T. W., & Weinstein, C. E. (2010). Effects of a value-reappraisal intervention on statistics students’ motivation and performance. The Journal of Experimental Education, 78(4), 487–512.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00220970903352753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American College Health Association. (2016). Spring 2016 reference group executive summary. Retrieved from http://www.acha-ncha.org/reports_ACHA-NCHAIIc.html.
  3. Andrews, B., & Wilding, J. M. (2004). The relation of depression and anxiety to life-stress and achievement in students. British Journal of Psychology, 95(4), 509–521.  https://doi.org/10.1348/0007126042369802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aristotle, (2001). Nichomachean ethics. In R. McKeon (Ed.), The basic works of Aristotle (pp. 928–1112). New York, NY: Modern Library.Google Scholar
  5. Barch, D., Pagliaccio, D., Belden, A., Harms, M. P., Gaffrey, M., Sylvester, C. M., et al. (2016). Effect of hippocampal and amygdala connectivity on the relationship between preschool poverty and school-age depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(6), 625–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bloom, D. E., Hartley, M., & Rosovsky, H. (2007). Beyond private gain: The public benefits of higher education. In J. J. F. Forest & P. G. Altbach (Eds.), International handbook of higher education (Vol. 18, pp. 293–308). Dordrecht: Springer.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4012-2_15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bresó, E., Schaufeli, W. B., & Salanova, M. (2011). Can a self-efficacy-based intervention decrease burnout, increase engagement, and enhance performance? A quasi-experimental study. Higher Education, 61(4), 339–355.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-010-9334-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Broadie, S. (1991). Ethics with aristotle. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cabrera, A. F., Nora, A., & Castañeda, M. B. (1992). The role of finances in the persistence process: A structural model. Research in Higher Education, 33(5), 571–593.  https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00973759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Campbell-Sills, L., & Barlow, D. H. (2007). Incorporating emotion regulation into conceptualizations and treatments of anxiety and mood disorders. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 542–559). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  11. Chapell, M. S., Blanding, Z. B., Silverstein, M. E., Takahashi, M., Newman, B., Gubi, A., et al. (2005). Test anxiety and academic performance in undergraduate and graduate students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(2), 268–274.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.97.2.268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cokley, K., McClain, S., Enciso, A., & Martinez, M. (2013). An examination of the impact of minority status stress and impostor feelings on the mental health of diverse ethnic minority college students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 41(2), 82–95.  https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1912.2013.00029.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(1), 1–11.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-006-9018-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Delle Fave, A., Brdar, I., Wissing, M. P., Araujo, U., Solano, A. C., Freire, T., et al. (2016). Lay definitions of happiness across nations: The primacy of inner harmony and relational connectedness. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 30.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Douce, L. A., & Keeling, R. P. (2014). A strategic primer on college student mental health. Retrieved from American Council on Education website: http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/A-Student-Primer-on-College-Mental-Health.pdf.
  16. Dunn, L. B., Iglewicz, A., & Moutier, C. (2008). A conceptual model of medical student well-being: Promoting resilience and preventing burnout. Academic Psychiatry, 32(1), 44–53.  https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ap.32.1.44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eisenberg, D., Golberstein, E., & Hunt, J. B. (2009). Mental health and academic success in college. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 9(1), 1–37.  https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eisenberg, D., Hunt, J., & Speer, N. (2013). Mental health in American colleges and universities: Variation across student subgroups and across campuses. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 201(1), 60–67.  https://doi.org/10.1097/nmd.0b013e31827ab077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Engle, J., & Tinto, V. (2008). Moving beyond access: College success for low-income, first generation students. Retrieved from The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education website: http://www.pellinstitute.org/downloads/publications-Moving_Beyond_Access_2008.pdf.
  20. Farruggia, S. P., Han, C., Watson, L., Moss, T. P., & Bottoms, B. L. (2016). Noncognitive factors and college student success. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025116666539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS. London: Sage publications.Google Scholar
  22. Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (Eds.). (2015). World happiness report 2015. Retrieved from Sustainable Development Solutions Network website: http://unsdsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/WHR15.pdf.
  23. Henderson, L. W., Knight, T., & Richardson, B. (2013). An exploration of the well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic behaviour. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(4), 322–336.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2013.803596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huta, V. (2015). The complementary roles of eudaimonia and hedonia and how they can be pursued in practice. In S. Joseph (Ed.), Positive psychology in practice: Promoting human flourishing in work, health, education, and everyday life (2nd ed., pp. 216–246). NJ: Wiley.  https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118996874.ch10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huta, V. (2016). Eudaimonic and hedonic orientations: Theoretical considerations and research findings. In J. Vittersø (Ed.), Handbook of eudaimonic well-being (pp. 215–231). Cham: Springer.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42445-3_15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huta, V., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Pursuing pleasure or virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(6), 735–762.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-009-9171-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huta, V., & Waterman, A. S. (2014). Eudaimonia and its distinction from hedonia: Developing a classification and terminology for understanding conceptual and operational definitions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(6), 1425–1456.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-013-9485-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jeynes, W. H. (2002). The relationship between the consumption of various drugs by adolescents and their academic achievement. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 28(1), 15–35.  https://doi.org/10.1081/ada-120001279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. John-Henderson, N. A., Rheinschmidt, M. L., Mendoza-Denton, R., & Francis, D. D. (2014). Performance and inflammation outcomes predicted by different facets of SES under stereotype threat. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(3), 301–309.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550613494226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jury, M., Smeding, A., Stephens, N. M., Nelson, J. E., Aelenei, C., & Darnon, C. (2017). The experience of low-SES students in higher education: Psychological barriers to success and interventions to reduce social-class inequality. Journal of Social Issues, 73(1), 23–41.  https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kim-Prieto, C., Diener, E., Tamir, M., Scollon, C., & Diener, M. (2005). Integrating the diverse definitions of happiness: A time-sequential framework of subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6(3), 261–300.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-005-7226-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Logan, J., Hughes, T., & Logan, B. (2016). Overworked? An observation of the relationship between student employment and academic performance. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 18(3), 250–262.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025115622777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lovibond, S. H., & Lovibond, P. F. (1995). Manual for the depression anxiety and stress scales. Sydney, NSW: Psychology Foundation of Australia.Google Scholar
  34. Lyubomirsky, S., & Della Porta, M. D. (2010). Boosting happiness, buttressing resilience: Results from cognitive and behavioral interventions. In J. W. Reich, A. J. Zautra, & J. S. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience (pp. 450–464). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  35. Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research, 46(2), 137–155.  https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1006824100041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Martin, R. C., & Dahlen, E. R. (2005). Cognitive emotion regulation in the prediction of depression, anxiety, stress, and anger. Personality and Individual Differences, 39(7), 1249–1260.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2005.06.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Maslach, C., & Goldberg, J. (1998). Prevention of burnout: New perspectives. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 7(1), 63–74.  https://doi.org/10.1016/s0962-1849(98)80022-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Merrick, A. D., Grieve, A., & Cogan, N. (2016). Psychological impacts of challenging behaviour and motivational orientation in staff supporting individuals with autistic spectrum conditions. Autism.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361316654857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mills, M. J., Fullagar, C. J., & Culbertson, S. S. (2016). Development and implementation of a multifaceted well-being intervention. Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, 3(4), 360–375.  https://doi.org/10.1108/joepp-02-2016-0013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (2003). Education, social status, and health. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  41. Mokrue, K., & Acri, M. C. (2015). Subjective health and health behaviors as predictors of symptoms of depression and anxiety among ethnic minority college students. Social Work in Mental Health, 13(2), 186–200.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15332985.2014.911238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Oishi, S., Graham, J., Kesebir, S., & Galinha, I. C. (2013). Concepts of happiness across time and cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(5), 559–577.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213480042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Okun, M. A., Levy, R., Karoly, P., & Ruehlman, L. (2009). Dispositional happiness and college student GPA: Unpacking a null relation. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(4), 711–715.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2009.03.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Perna, L. W. (2003). The private benefits of higher education: An examination of the earnings premium. Research in Higher Education, 44(4), 451–472.  https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1024237016779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6(1), 25–41.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-004-1278-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(2), 353–387.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Robbins, S. B., Lauver, K., Le, H., Davis, D., Langley, R., & Carlstrom, A. (2004). Do psychosocial and study skill factors predict college outcomes? A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 130(2), 261–288.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.2.261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069–1081.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.57.6.1069.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Santos, V., Paes, F., Pereira, V., Arias-Carrión, O., Silva, A. C., Carta, M. G., et al. (2013). The role of positive emotion and contributions of positive psychology in depression treatment: Systematic review. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health: CP & EMH, 9(1), 221–237.  https://doi.org/10.2174/1745017901309010221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schneider, M., & Preckel, F. (2017). Variables associated with achievement in higher education: A systematic review of meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 143(6), 565–600.  https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000098.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066x.55.1.5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shanafelt, T. D., Boone, S., Tan, L., Dyrbye, L. N., Sotile, W., Satele, D., et al. (2012). Burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance among US physicians relative to the general US population. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(18), 1377–1385.  https://doi.org/10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Snyder, T. D., de Brey, C., & Dillow, S. A. (2016). Digest of education statistics 2015 (NCES 2016-014). Retrieved from National Center for Education Statistics website: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016014.pdf.
  54. Soria, K. M., Stebleton, M. J., & Huesman, R. L. (2013). Class counts: Exploring differences in academic and social integration between working-class and middle/upper-class students at large, public research universities. Journal of College Student Retention, 15(2), 215–242.  https://doi.org/10.2190/cs.15.2.e.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stebleton, M. J., Soria, K. M., & Huesman, R. L. (2014). First-generation students’ sense of belonging, mental health, and use of counseling services at public research universities. Journal of College Counseling, 17(1), 6–20.  https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1882.2014.00044.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stephens, N. M., Hamedani, M. G., & Destin, M. (2014). Closing the social-class achievement gap: A difference-education intervention improves first-generation students’ academic performance and all students’ college transition. Psychological Science, 25(4), 943–953.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613518349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tamir, M. (2016). Why do people regulate their emotions? A taxonomy of motives in emotion regulation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 20(3), 199–222.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868315586325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Telzer, E. H., Fuligni, A. J., Lieberman, M. D., & Galván, A. (2014). Neural sensitivity to eudaimonic and hedonic rewards differentially predict adolescent depressive symptoms over time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(18), 6600–6605.  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1323014111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. U.S. Census Bureau. (2015). U.S. census quick facts. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/00.
  60. Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 331(6023), 1447–1451.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Waterman, A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(4), 678–691.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.64.4.678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wechsler, D. (1999). Manual for the Wechsler abbreviated intelligence scale (WASI). San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  63. Whalen, D., Saunders, K., & Shelley, M. (2010). Leveraging what we know to enhance short-term and long-term retention of university students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 11(3), 407–430.  https://doi.org/10.2190/cs.11.3.f.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wibrowski, C. R., Matthews, W. K., & Kitsantas, A. (2016). The role of a skills learning support program on first-generation college students’ self-regulation, motivation, and academic achievement. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025116629152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wohlgemuth, D., Whalen, D., Sullivan, J., Nading, C., Shelley, M., & Wang, Y. (2006). Financial, academic, and environmental influences on the retention and graduation of students. Journal of College Student Retention, 8(4), 457–475.  https://doi.org/10.2190/86x6-5vh8-3007-6918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302–314.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2012.722805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Kryza-Lacombe
    • 1
  • Elise Tanzini
    • 2
  • Sarah O’Neill
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical PsychologySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Psychology Department, The City College of New York and The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations