Happiness in Everyday Life: The Uses of Experience Sampling

Abstract

This paper uses the Experience Sampling Method data drawn from a national sample of American youth. It examines the proximal environmental factors as well as behaviors and habits that correlate to personal happiness. Momentary-level scores show that reported happiness varies significantly both by day of week and time of day. Furthermore, particular activities are associated with varying degrees of happiness. School activities rate below average scores in happiness, while social, active and passive leisure activities are above average. Particular companions also correlate to differing level of happiness. Being alone rates the lowest levels of happiness, while being with friend corresponds to the highest. Person-level averages of happiness suggest that both higher social class and age correlate with lower levels of happiness, while gender and race do not. Paradoxically, youth who spend more time in school and social activities are happier than those who spend less. Unexpectedly, students who spend more time pleasure reading report lower levels of happiness. Finally, feeling good about the self, excited, proud, sociable, active as well as being in the conditions for flow experience are the strongest predictors of trait happiness.

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Correspondence to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

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Csikszentmihalyi, M., Hunter, J. Happiness in Everyday Life: The Uses of Experience Sampling. Journal of Happiness Studies 4, 185–199 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024409732742

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  • experience sampling
  • happiness
  • usual daily activities