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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Mike Corcoran.

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This article was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and supported within the framework of a subsidy by the Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5-100’.

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Sheldon, K.M., Corcoran, M. & Prentice, M. Pursuing Eudaimonic Functioning Versus Pursuing Hedonic Well-Being: The First Goal Succeeds in Its Aim, Whereas the Second Does Not. J Happiness Stud 20, 919–933 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-9980-4

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Keywords

  • Subjective well-being
  • Eudaimonia
  • Hedonia
  • Change goals
  • Eudaimonic activity model