Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research

2014 Edition
| Editors: Alex C. Michalos

Need Theory

  • Ruut VeenhovenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_1920



The view that happiness depends on the gratification of innate human needs, rather than on the meeting of socially constructed wants.


Need theory of happiness is linked to affect theory, which holds that happiness is a reflection of how well we feel generally. In this view, we do not “calculate” happiness but rather “infer” it, the typical heuristic being “I feel good most of the time, hence I must be happy” (Schwarz&Strack, 1991).


In this line of thought, one question is how we take stock of our affective experience. Another question is what makes us feel good or bad, and this links up to the wider question of the functions of affect.

Frequency of Affect

It would seem that our overall evaluation of life is geared by the most salient affective experiences and that these are typically intense affects. This view is common in fiction and is more or less implied in life reviews. Yet research using the Experience Sampling Method shows...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus Happiness Economics Research OrganisationErasmus University RotterdamPotchefstroomThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Optentia Research GroupNorth–West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa