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Happiness, Meaning, and Psychological Richness


What kind of life do people want? In psychology, a good life has typically been conceptualized in terms of either hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. We propose that psychological richness is another neglected aspect of what people consider a good life. In study 1 (9-nation cross-cultural study), we asked participants whether they ideally wanted a happy, a meaningful, or a psychologically rich life. Roughly 7 to 17% of participants chose the psychologically rich life. In study 2, we asked 1611 Americans and 680 Koreans what they regret most in their lives; then, if they could undo or reverse the regretful event, whether their lives would have been happier, more meaningful, or psychologically richer as a result. Roughly 28% of Americans and 35% of Koreans reported their lives would have been psychologically richer. Together, this work provides a foundation for the study of psychological richness as another dimension of a good life.

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We thank JP Bouvet and TJ Gill for their help with editing the manuscript.


This research was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and Saint Louis University to Shigehiro Oishi and Lorraine L. Besser (G011993).

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Correspondence to Shigehiro Oishi.

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The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

Approval was obtained from the ethics committee of University of Virginia. The procedures used in this study adhere to thetenets of the Declaration of Helsinki.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Handling editor: Phoebe Ellsworth

Our studies were not preregistered.

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Oishi, S., Choi, H., Koo, M. et al. Happiness, Meaning, and Psychological Richness. Affec Sci 1, 107–115 (2020).

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  • Happiness
  • Meaning in life
  • Psychological richness