Human Happiness and the Pursuit of Maximization

Is More Always Better?

  • Hilke Brockmann
  • Jan Delhey

Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Hilke Brockmann, Jan Delhey
    Pages 1-14
  3. Peter C. Whybrow
    Pages 15-26
  4. Kurt Bayertz
    Pages 41-54
  5. Valerie Tiberius
    Pages 55-67
  6. Ulrich Schimmack, Hyunji Kim
    Pages 115-129
  7. Robert Davidson, Alexander C. Pacek, Benjamin Radcliff
    Pages 163-175
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 211-216

About this book


This book tests the critical potential of happiness research to evaluate contemporary high-performance societies. These societies, defined as affluent capitalist societies, emphasize competition and success both  institutionally and culturally. Growing affluence improves life in many ways, for a large number of people. We lead longer, safer, and more comfortable lives than previous generations. But we also live faster, and are competition-toughened, like top athletes. As a result, we suspect limits and detect downsides of our high-speed lives. The ubiquitous maximization principle opens up a systematic gateway to the pleasures and pains of contemporary life. Using happiness as a reference point, this book explores the philosophical and empirical limits of the maximization rule. It considers the answer to questions such as: Precisely, why did the idea of (economic) maximization gain so much ground in our Western way of thinking? When, and in which life domains, does maximization work, when does it fail? When do qualities and when do quantities matter? Does maximization yield a different (un)happiness dividend in different species, cultures, and societies?


Consumptiom and Happiness Downsides of modern societies Economy and society Happiness and Maximization Happiness and Well-Being Happiness in different societies and cultures Maximization in Biological Evolution Measures of National Well-Being Mental health on high-speed lives Neuroscience of Well-Being Public Policy and Human Happiness State Care for Happiness of Its Citizens Treating Mental Dysfunction

Editors and affiliations

  • Hilke Brockmann
    • 1
  • Jan Delhey
    • 2
  1. 1., School of Humanities and Social SciencesJacobs University BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.School of Humanities and Social SciencesJacobs UniversityBremenGermany

Bibliographic information