Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 39–48 | Cite as

Persistent pursuit of need-satisfying goals leads to increased happiness: A 6-month experimental longitudinal study

  • Kennon M. SheldonEmail author
  • Neetu Abad
  • Yuna Ferguson
  • Alexander Gunz
  • Linda Houser-Marko
  • Charles P. Nichols
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
Original Paper


University-based community members (N = 181) participated in a four-wave, 6-month longitudinal experiment designed to increase treatment participants’ happiness levels. Participants were randomly assigned to set goals either to improve their life circumstances (comparison condition) or to increase their feelings of autonomy, competence, or relatedness in life (treatment conditions). We hypothesized that sustained gains in happiness would be observed only in the three treatment conditions, and that even these gains would last only when there was continuing goal engagement. Results supported these predictions and the sustainable happiness model on which they were based (Lyubomirsky et al. in Rev Gen Psychol 9:111–131, 2005). Furthermore, participants with initial positive attitudes regarding happiness change obtained larger benefits. We conclude that maintained happiness gains are possible, but that they require both “a will and a proper way” (Lyubomirsky et al. in Becoming happier takes both a will and a proper way: two experimental longitudinal interventions to boost well-being, 2009).


Subjective well-being Psychological needs Sustainable happiness Goal progress Attitudes towards happiness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kennon M. Sheldon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Neetu Abad
    • 1
  • Yuna Ferguson
    • 1
  • Alexander Gunz
    • 1
  • Linda Houser-Marko
    • 1
  • Charles P. Nichols
    • 1
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
    • 2
  1. 1.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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