Advertisement

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 227–246 | Cite as

Lay Theories of Happiness

  • Adrian FurnhamEmail author
  • Helen Cheng
Article

Abstract

Over 230 young people completed a battery of questionnaires measuring personality, self-esteem, and happiness as well as one developed specifically for this study on their “theories of the causes of happiness”. The 36 causes factored into six internally coherent and interpretable factors. Self-reported happiness, extraversion and sex were correlated with the lay theory factors. Four of the six factors were modestly (r < 0.20) correlated with the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI) scores. Path analysis, using the OHI as the dependent variable, showed self-esteem, extraversion and neuroticism direct predictors of happiness but that among the lay theories, only lay theories about optimism and contentment were direct predictors. Personality and demographic variables did predict the lay theories but the latter did not act as moderator or mediating factors between the former and happiness. The role and function of lay theories with respect to happiness are discussed.

personality self-esteem happiness lay theories extraversion optimism 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Argyle, M.: 1987, The Psychology of Happiness (Routledge, London).Google Scholar
  2. Argyle, M. and J. Crossland: 1987, 'The dimensions of positive emotions', British Journal of Social Psychology 26, pp. 127-137.Google Scholar
  3. Argyle, M. and A. Furnham: 1983, 'Sources of satisfaction and conflict in lay-term relationships', Journal of Marriage and the Family 45, pp. 481-493.Google Scholar
  4. Argyle, M. and L. Lu: 1990, 'The happiness of extroverts', Personality and Individual Differences 11, pp. 1011-1017.Google Scholar
  5. Argyle, M., M. Martin and J. Crossland: 1989, 'Happiness as a function of personality and social encounters', in J.P. Forgas and J.M. Innes (eds.), Recent Advances in Social Psychology: An International Perspective (Elsevier, North Holland).Google Scholar
  6. Bradburn, N.M.: 1969, The Structure of PsychologicalWell-Being (Aldine, Chicago).Google Scholar
  7. Brebner, J., J. Donaldson, N. Kirby and L. Ward: 1995, 'Relationships between happiness and personality', Personality and Individual Differences 19, pp. 251-258.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, A.: 1976, 'Subjective measures of well-being', American Psychologist 31, pp. 117-124.Google Scholar
  9. Campbell, A.: 1981, The sense of well-being in America: Recent patterns and trends (McGraw-Hill, New York).Google Scholar
  10. Chekola, M.G.: 1975, The Concept of Happiness, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Michigan, 1974, Dissertation Abstracts International 35, 4609A, University Microfilms No. 75-655 (University of Michigan).Google Scholar
  11. Clemente, F. and W. J. Sauer: 1976a, 'Life satisfaction in the United States', Social Forces 54, pp. 621-631.Google Scholar
  12. Costa, P.T., Jr. and R. McCrae: 1980: 'Influence of extroversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and Unhappy People', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38, pp. 668-678.Google Scholar
  13. Csikszentmihalyi, M.: 1975, Beyond boredom and anxiety (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  14. Csikszentmihalyi, M.: 1999, 'If we are so rich, why aren't we happy', American Psychologist 54, pp. 821-827.Google Scholar
  15. Diener, E.: 1984, 'Subjective well-being', Psychological Bulletin, 95, pp. 542-575.Google Scholar
  16. Diener, E. and Emmons, R.A.: 1984, 'The independence of positive and negative affect', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38, pp. 668-678.Google Scholar
  17. Easterlin, R.A.: 1974, 'Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence', in P.A. David and M.W. Reder (eds.), Nations and households in economic growth (Academic Press, New York), pp. 89-125.Google Scholar
  18. Emmons, R.A. and E. Diener: 1985, 'Personality correlates of subjective well-being', Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 11, pp. 89-97.Google Scholar
  19. Eysenck, H.J.: 1983, I Do: Your Guide To A Happy Marriage (Centenary, London).Google Scholar
  20. Eysenck, H.J. and S.B.G. Eysenck: 1975, Manual of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (Hodder and Stoughton, London).Google Scholar
  21. Eysenck, S.B.G., H.J. Eysenck and P. Barrett: 1985, 'A revised version of the psychoticism scale', Personality and Individual Differences 6, pp. 21-29.Google Scholar
  22. Eysenck, M.: 1990, Happiness, Facts and Myths (Lawrence Erlbaum, London).Google Scholar
  23. Fordyce, M.W.: 1977, 'Development of a programme to increase personal happiness', Journal of Counselling Psychology 24, pp. 511-521.Google Scholar
  24. Fordyce, M.W.: 1983, 'A programme to increase happiness: Further studies', Journal of Counselling Psychology 30, pp. 483-498.Google Scholar
  25. Francis, L.: 1999, 'Happiness is a thing called stable extraversion', Personality and Individual Differences 26, pp. 5-11.Google Scholar
  26. Freedman, J.: 1978, Happy People: What Happiness is, Who Has it and Why. (Harcourt Brace Jovanich, New York).Google Scholar
  27. Furnham, A.: 1984, 'Lay conceptions of neuroticism', Personality and Individual Differences 5, pp. 95-103.Google Scholar
  28. Furnham, A.: 1988, Lay Theories (Pergamon Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  29. Furnham, A.: 1989, 'Overcoming “psychosomatic” illness: lay attributions of cure for five possible psychosomatic illness', Social Science and Medicine 29, pp. 61-67.Google Scholar
  30. Furnham, A.: 1995, 'Overcoming neuroses: lay attributions of cure for five specific neurotic disorders', Journal of Clinical Psychology 51, pp. 518-525.Google Scholar
  31. Furnham, A. andA. Akande: 1997, 'Cross-cultural differences in attributions for outcoming specific-psychological problems', Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality 12, pp. 727-742.Google Scholar
  32. Furnham, A. and M. Argyle: 1998, The Psychology of Money (Routledge, London).Google Scholar
  33. Furnham, A. and P. Bower: 1992, 'A comparison of academic and lay theories of schizophrenia', British Journal of Psychiatry 161, pp. 201-220.Google Scholar
  34. Furnham, A. and C.J. Brewin: 1990, 'Personality and happiness', Personality and Individual Differences 11, pp. 1093-1096.Google Scholar
  35. Furnham, A. and H. Cheng: 1997, 'Personality and happiness', Psychological Reports 80, pp. 761-762.Google Scholar
  36. Furnham, A. and H. Cheng: 1999, 'Personality as predictors of mental health and happiness in the East and West', Personality and Individual Differences 27, pp. 395-403.Google Scholar
  37. Furnham, A. and W. Kuyken: 1991, 'Lay theories of depression', Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality 6, pp. 329-342.Google Scholar
  38. Furnham, A. and R. Hayward: 1997, 'A study and meta-analysis of lay attributions of cure for overcoming specific psychological problems', Journal of Genetic Psychology 158, pp. 315-331.Google Scholar
  39. Furnham, A. and M. Henderson: 1983, 'Lay theories of delinquency', European Journal of Social Psychology 13, pp. 107-120.Google Scholar
  40. Furnham, A. and S. Henley: 1988, 'Lay beliefs about overcoming psychological problems', Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 6, pp. 423-438.Google Scholar
  41. Furnham, A. and V. Lowick: 1984, 'Lay theories of the causes of alcoholism', British Journal of Medical Psychology 57, pp. 319-332.Google Scholar
  42. Furnham, A. and M.R. McDermott: 1994, 'Lay beliefs about the efficacy of selfreliance, seeking help and external control as strategies for overcoming obesity, drug addiction, stuttering and insomnia', Psychology and Health 9, pp. 397-406.Google Scholar
  43. Furnham, A. and L. Thomson: 1996, 'Lay theories of heroin addiction', Social Science and Medicine 43, pp. 29-40.Google Scholar
  44. Furnham, A. and J. Rees: 1988, 'Lay theories of schizophrenia', International Journal of Social Psychiatry 34, pp. 212-220.Google Scholar
  45. Furnham, A. and I. Wardley: 1990, 'Lay theories of psychotherapy I', Journal of Clinical Psychology 46, pp. 878-890.Google Scholar
  46. Furnham, A. and I. Wardley: 1991, 'Lay theories of psychotherapy II', Human Relations 44, pp. 1197-2010.Google Scholar
  47. Furnham, A., I. Wardley and F. Lillie: 1992, 'Lay theories of psychotherapy III', Human Relations 45, pp. 839-850.Google Scholar
  48. Henley, S. and A. Furnham: 1988, 'The attribution of cure: lay beliefs about overcoming problems', British Journal of Clinical Psychology 27, pp. 384-386.Google Scholar
  49. Knapp, J. and D. Delprato: 1980, 'Willpower, behaviour therapy and the public', Psychological Record 30, pp. 447-482.Google Scholar
  50. Knapp, J. and S. Karabenick: 1985, 'Overcoming problems: the perceived importance of willpower and other contributors', Cognitive Therapy and Research 9, pp. 463-470.Google Scholar
  51. Kuyken, W., C. Brewin, M. Power and A. Furnham: 1992, 'Causal beliefs about depression in depressed patients, clinical psychologists and lay persons', British Journal of Medical Psychology 65, pp. 257-268.Google Scholar
  52. Larson, R.: 1978, 'Thirty years of research on the subjective well-being of older Americans', Journal of Gerontology 33, pp. 109-125.Google Scholar
  53. Maslow, A.: 1954, Motivation and Personality (Harper and Row, New York).Google Scholar
  54. Matlin, M.W. and V.J. Gawron: 1979, 'Individual differences in pollyannaism', Journal of Personality Assessment 43, pp. 411-412.Google Scholar
  55. Rosenberg, M.: 1965, Society and The Adolescent Self-Image (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ).Google Scholar
  56. Sigelman, L.: 1981, 'Is ignorance bliss? A reconsideration of the folk wisdom', Human Relations 34, pp. 965-974.Google Scholar
  57. Thorndike, R.L.: 1942, 'Two screening tests of verbal intelligence', Journal of Applied Psychology 26, pp. 128-135.Google Scholar
  58. Veenhoven, R.: 1984, Conditions of Happiness (D. Reidel Publishing Company: Dordrecht).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonGreat Britain E-mail

Personalised recommendations