Social Indicators Research

, Volume 90, Issue 2, pp 165–179

Three Ways to Be Happy: Pleasure, Engagement, and Meaning—Findings from Australian and US Samples

  • Dianne A. Vella-Brodrick
  • Nansook Park
  • Christopher Peterson

DOI: 10.1007/s11205-008-9251-6

Cite this article as:
Vella-Brodrick, D.A., Park, N. & Peterson, C. Soc Indic Res (2009) 90: 165. doi:10.1007/s11205-008-9251-6


This study examined the contributions of orientations to happiness (pleasure, engagement and meaning) to subjective well-being. A sample of 12,622 adults from the United States completed on-line surveys measuring orientations to happiness, positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction. A sample of 332 adults from Australia also completed these surveys as well as a measure of the big five factor personality traits. Hierarchical regressions generally supported the hypothesis that the three orientations to happiness predict subjective well-being (satisfaction with life, positive affect and negative affect) beyond sociodemographic variables and personality. Meaning and engagement explained the greatest variance in all three components of subjective well-being. Overall, these findings support the importance of a eudaimonic approach in addition to the hedonic approach to achieving happiness. Moreover, findings were relatively consistent in both the Australian and US samples.


Orientations to happiness Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Positive and negative affect Positive psychology Pleasure Engagement Meaning 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dianne A. Vella-Brodrick
    • 1
  • Nansook Park
    • 2
  • Christopher Peterson
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological MedicineMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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