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      The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?

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      Psychological Bulletin

      American Psychological Association (APA)

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          Abstract

          Numerous studies show that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health. The authors suggest a conceptual model to account for these findings, arguing that the happiness-success link exists not only because success makes people happy, but also because positive affect engenders success. Three classes of evidence--crosssectional, longitudinal, and experimental--are documented to test their model. Relevant studies are described and their effect sizes combined meta-analytically. The results reveal that happiness is associated with and precedes numerous successful outcomes, as well as behaviors paralleling success. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that positive affect--the hallmark of well-being--may be the cause of many of the desirable characteristics, resources, and successes correlated with happiness. Limitations, empirical issues, and important future research questions are discussed.

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          Most cited references 244

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          Comparing correlated correlation coefficients.

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            Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities

             Ed Diener (1994)
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              Judgment of contingency in depressed and nondepressed students: sadder but wiser?

              How are humans' subjective judgments of contingencies related to objective contingencies? Work in social psychology and human contingency learning predicts that the greater the frequency of desired outcomes, the greater people's judgments of contingency will be. Second, the learned helplessness theory of depression provides both a strong and a weak prediction concerning the linkage between subjective and objective contingencies. According to the strong prediction, depressed individuals should underestimate the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes relative to the objective degree of contingency. According to the weak prediction, depressed individuals merely should judge that there is a smaller degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes than nondepressed individuals should. In addition, the present investigation deduced a new strong prediction from the helplessness theory: Nondepressed individuals should overestimate the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes relative to the objective degree of contingency. In the experiments, depressed and nondepressed students were present with one of a series of problems varying in the actual degree of contingency. In each problem, subjects estimated the degree of contingency between their responses (pressing or not pressing a button) and an environmental outcome (onset of a green light). Performance on a behavioral task and estimates of the conditional probability of green light onset associated with the two response alternatives provided additional measures for assessing beliefs about contingencies. Depressed students' judgments of contingency were surprisingly accurate in all four experiments. Nondepressed students, on the other hand, overestimated the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes when noncontingent outcomes were frequent and/or desired and underestimated the degree of contingency when contingent outcomes were undesired. Thus, predictions derived from social psychology concerning the linkage between subjective and objective contingencies were confirmed for nondepressed students but not for depressed students. Further, the predictions of helplessness theory received, at best, minimal support. The learned helplessness and self-serving motivational bias hypotheses are evaluated as explanations of the results. In addition, parallels are drawn between the present results and phenomena in cognitive psychology, social psychology, and animal learning. Finally, implications for cognitive illusions in normal people, appetitive helplessness, judgment of contingency between stimuli, and learning theory are discussed.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Psychological Bulletin
                Psychological Bulletin
                American Psychological Association (APA)
                1939-1455
                0033-2909
                2005
                2005
                : 131
                : 6
                : 803-855
                Article
                10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803
                16351326
                © 2005

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