, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 615–630 | Cite as

The happiness turn? Mapping the emergence of “happiness studies” using cited references

  • Christopher KullenbergEmail author
  • Gustaf Nelhans


This article analyzes “happiness studies” as an emerging field of inquiry throughout various scientific disciplines and research areas. Utilizing four operationalized search terms in the Web of Science; “happiness”, “subjective well-being”, “life satisfaction” and “positive affect”, a dataset was created for empirical citation analysis. Combined with qualitative interpretations of the publications, our results show how happiness studies has developed over time, in what journals the citing papers have been published, and which authors and researchers are the most productive within this set. We also trace various trends in happiness studies, such as the social indicators movement, the introduction of positive psychology and various medical and clinical applications of happiness studies. We conclude that “happiness studies” has emerged in many different disciplinary contexts and progressively been integrated and standardized. Moreover, beginning at the turn of the millennium, happiness studies has even begun to shape an autonomous field of inquiry, in which happiness becomes a key research problem for itself. Thus, rather than speaking of a distinct “happiness turn”, our study shows that there have been many heterogeneous turns to happiness, departing in a number of different disciplines.


Happiness studies Cited references Bibliographic coupling Multidisciplinary Citation analysis 


  1. Ahmed, S. (2007). The happiness turn. New Formations, 63(7), 7–14.Google Scholar
  2. Ahmed, S. (2010). The promise of happiness. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  5. Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1976). Social indicators of well-being: Americans’ perceptions of life quality. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aristotle (1991). Nichomachean ethics, (W. D. Ross, Trans.). New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173–1182.Google Scholar
  8. Bradburn, N. (1969). The structure of psychological well-being. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  9. Bradburn, N. M., & Caplovitz, D. (1965). Reports on happiness. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  10. Burgess, E. W., & Cottrell, L. S. (1939). Predicting success or failure in marriage. Oxford: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  11. Campbell, A., Converse, P., & Rodgers, W. (1976). The quality of American life. New York: Russell Stage Foundation.Google Scholar
  12. Cantril, H. (1965). The pattern of human concerns. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cumming, E., & Henry, W. E. (1961). Growing old: The process of disengagement. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  14. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 542–575.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  15. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. A. David & M. W. Reder (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in honor of Moses Abramovitz. New York: Academic Press Inc.Google Scholar
  18. Edwards, J. N., & Klemmack, D. L. (1973). Correlates of life satisfaction: Re-examination. Journals of Gerontology, 28(4), 497–502.Google Scholar
  19. Emmons, R. A. (2006). Editorial. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(1), 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gilbert, G. N. (1977). Referencing as Persuasion. Social Studies of Science, 7(1), 113–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gurin, G., Veroff, J., & Feld, S. (1960). Americans view their mental health: A nationwide interview survey. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  22. Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2012). World happiness report. The Earth Institute, Columbia University, Accessed 2 September 2014.
  23. Knox, D. (1971) Marriage happiness: A behavioral approach to counseling. Champaign, Illinois: Research Press Co.Google Scholar
  24. Larson, R. (1978). 30 years of research on subjective well-being of older Americans. Journals of Gerontology, 33(1), 109–125.Google Scholar
  25. Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Latour, B. (1999). Pandora’s hope: Essays on the reality of science studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Latour, B. (2013). An inquiry into modes of existence—An anthropology of the moderns. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Layard, R. (2005). Happiness—Lessons from a new science. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  29. Locke, H. J. (1951). Predicting adjustments in marriage: A comparison of a divorced and a happily married group. New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
  30. Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The how of happiness: A practical guide to getting the life you want. London: Sphere.Google Scholar
  31. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nederhof, A. J. (2006). Bibliometric monitoring of research performance in the social sciences and the humanities: A review. Scientometrics, 66(1), 81–100.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  33. Neugarten, B. L., Havighurst, R. J., & Tobin, S. S. (1961). The measurement of life satisfaction. Journal of Gerontology, 16(2), 134–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Palmore, E. B. (1968). Effects of aging on activities and attitudes. Gerontologist, 8(4), 259–263.Google Scholar
  35. Palmore, E., & Luikart, C. (1972). Health an social factors related to life satisfaction. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 13(1), 68–80.Google Scholar
  36. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). The affective and cognitive context of self-reported measures of subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 28(1), 1–20.Google Scholar
  37. Powell, T. (2014). National well-being measures. March 2014, Office for National Statistics, Accessed 10 June 2014.
  38. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1(3), 385–401.Google Scholar
  39. Rafols, I., Porter, A. L., & Leydesdorff, L. (2010). Science overlay maps: A new tool for research policy and library management. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(9), 1871–1887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology—An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Small, H. G. (1978). Cited documents as concept symbols. Social Studies of Science, 8(3), 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spreitze, E., & Snyder, E. E. (1974). Correlates of life satisfaction among aged. Journals of Gerontology, 29(4), 454–458.Google Scholar
  46. Terman, L. M., Buttenweiser, P., Ferguson, L. W., Johanson, W. B., & Wilson, D. P. (1938). Psychological factors in marital happiness. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  47. UNDP (2013). Human Development Report 2013. The rise of the south: Human progress in a diverse world. New York: United Nation’s Human Development Programme.Google Scholar
  48. Van Eck, N. J., & Waltman, L. (2010). Software survey: VOSviewer, a computer program for bibliometric mapping. Scientometrics, 84(2), 523–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Van Heur, B., Leydesdorff, L., & Wyatt, S. (2012). Turning to ontology in STS? Turning to STS through ‘Ontology’. Social Studies of Science, 43(4), 341–362.Google Scholar
  50. Watson, D., & Tellegen, A. (1985). Toward a consensual structure of mood. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 219–235.Google Scholar
  51. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wilson, W. (1967). Correlates of Avowed Happiness. Psychological Bulletin, 67(4), 294–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Swedish School of Library and Information Science (SSLIS)University of BoråsBoråsSweden

Personalised recommendations