Skip to main content

Predictors of aversion to happiness: New Insights from a multi-national study


Aversion to happiness is defined as the belief that experiencing or expressing happiness can cause bad things to happen. In this study, the fear of happiness scale was used to measure aversion to happiness in a multinational sample of adults from several countries (N = 871). Partial measurement invariance was supported for the fear of happiness scale. The study also examined 9 potential predictors of aversion to happiness: gender, age, religiosity, belief in collective happiness, perfectionism, belief in karma, belief in black magic, loneliness, and perception of an unhappy childhood. Bayesian multilevel modeling showed that, except for gender and religiosity, all predictors contributed significantly to the prediction of aversion to happiness. Together, the predictors explained about 28% of the variance in aversion to happiness. The strongest predictors were an unhappy childhood, perfectionism, belief in black magic and karma, and loneliness. This study provides new evidence for the cross-cultural measurement invariance of the fear of happiness scale in adult samples and sheds new light on the nomological network of aversion to happiness.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Data Availability

The questionnaire of this study and the data file are available at


Download references


The author wishes to thank Katherine Le and Citizenme for facilitating the collection of data.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mohsen Joshanloo.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Joshanloo, M. Predictors of aversion to happiness: New Insights from a multi-national study. Motiv Emot (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Fear of happiness
  • Aversion to happiness
  • Karma
  • Magical thinking
  • Perfectionism, bayesian
  • Multi-level