Emotional Resilience Blog from The Fear Course

The latest research, realisations and thinking in the world of emotional resilience, anxiety and fear reduction from around the world.

Does it matter if your friends are online or face-to-face? How to be happy.

Does it matter if your friends are online or face-to-face? How to be happy.

There are a lot of assumptions about the value of online friends versus face-to-face friends (in the flesh as it were) and the impact of these on our general level of happiness and well-being, what is known as Subjective Well-Being or SWB by researchers. Usually it is assumed that face-to-face contact is superior to online contact, but is it true?

A student researcher, Lena Holmberg at the Örebro University in Sweden looked at this very question and the answer may surprise you.

In her thesis, published yesterday, Holmberg examined the levels of social connectedness of 293 young adults aged between 18 and 48 and their levels of happiness. Social connectedness refers to three things:

  1. the desire people have to create and maintain relationships
  2. the social bonds you have with others, and
  3. the feeling of belongingness that results from these bonds

What she found was that there is no difference in terms of the amount of happiness that online or offline friends brought to the people in the study. She did however find that often the most happy people had what they would term as more genuine online friends than the others.

It would appear from this study that the the more genuine friends you have have happier you will be. It would also appear that it is easier to maintain relationships, build deeper social bonds and get a greater feeling of belonging through online social networking.

If anyone wants to connect with me on Linked-in my profile is here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/centrei

 

References

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497

Grieve, R., Indian, M., Witteveen, K., Tolan, G., & Marrington, J. (2013). Face-to-face or Facebook: Can social connectedness be derived online? Computers In Human Behavior,29(3), 604-609. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.11.017

Holmberg, L. (2014) Seeking Social Connectedness Online and Offline: Does Happiness Require Real Contact?. Thesis. Örebro University. Available at http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:736737/FULLTEXT01.pdf.

 

 

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How much of our happiness is actually down to personality or the situation we find ourselves in? The research evidence.

How much of our happiness is actually down to personality or the situation we find ourselves in? The research evidence.

In my last blog I shared some research showing that people tend to think about a third of their happiness is equally distributed between

  • Personality
  • Context or the situation they find themselves in at any time or
  • Own actions. What are called voluntary or intentional actions that help to up-regulate their own emotions

These are, however, perceptions and here I'm going to look at whether they are borne out by research.

One of the largest studies ever undertaken on human happiness found that just under half of all human happiness is determined by our own actions. This is by far and away the largest factor in our happiness and the good news is we can control it. Not only can we control our own actions in a way that can make us happy, but we can learn to get better at doing this. This is in essence the foundation of emotion regulation; using tools and techniques which can change our emotions at will.

So what about our personality?

The research about personality and happiness is pretty inconclusive, however one study published in 2012 found no correlation whatsoever between happiness or life satisfaction and personality and a large scale study of 16,367 Australian residents just published this year looked at the links between personality and happiness. The researchers concluded that there is no direct connection between personality and happiness as such. Rather that as a person matures they often learn to get better at regulating their emotions and this starts to have an impact on their personality which then reinforces the emotion regulation techniques they are using.

This works well if the individual learns healthy emotion regulation techniques, however if the individual gets into unhealthy emotion regulation like using alcohol, drugs, food and addictions etc. this is also likely to affect their personality which in turn reinforces those habits.

So it would appear our personality has little if any influence on our ability to be happy. When you think about it this makes sense. Think about the difference between introverts and extroverts for example. It is estimated that extroverts make up somewhere between 50 - 74 percent of the population in the west. Extroverts tend to get their energy from being with others and introverts get their energy from being on their own. Different things make these two types of people happy. Happiness for an introvert might just be a night in with a good book and extroverts are often happy at a party or social gathering. So it is hardly surprising that there is no direct correlation or cause of happiness in our personalities. It is more what we do with those personalities - the actions we take.

What about the context or situations we find ourselves in?

How much are the situations we find ourselves in are responsible for our happiness?

Clearly there are very severe situation which can impact an individual's happiness significantly like grief, being kidnapped or severely injured. However what we find here is that different people respond differently to these situations. For example a friend of mine was shot and almost killed whilst he was in the army. At no stage did he suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression or any similar disorder. In fact he is one of the happiest, most upbeat people I know. The control room radio operator who heard the incident, however, had to leave his job as a result of PTSD from that incident.

In various studies the context or situation has a much smaller impact on our happiness than we might at first expect. Some studies even suggest that like personality, context or situation has no significant impact on happiness on its own. Rather it is the meaning we make of, or impose on that situation. So again we find that context or situation plays a very small role in our happiness, even given the studies that do find some situational impact on happiness, at most they estimate that it contributes to less than 5% of the factors which do contribute significantly to our happiness.

 

So now we have a chart that probably looks more like this:

What actually makes us happy

As opposed to what people think makes us happy:

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 13.23.22

 

 

 

References

Argyle, M., & Martin, M. (1991). The psychological causes of happiness. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 77–100). Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.
Aspinwall, L. G. (1998). Rethinking the role of positive affect in self-regulation. Motivation and Emotion, 22, 1–32.
Aspinwall, L. G., & Brunhart, S. M. (1996). Distinguishing optimism fromdenial: Optimistic beliefs predict attention to health threats.Personalityand Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 993–1003.
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L. & Diener, E. (2005) The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?Psychological Bulletin 2005, Vol. 131, No. 6, 803–855
Berscheid, E. (2003). The human's greatest strength: Other humans. In L. G. Aspinwall & U. M. Staudinger (Eds.), A psychology of human strengths: Fundamental questions and future directions for a positive psychology (pp. 37–47). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Attention and self-regulation: A control-theory approach to human behaviour. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1990). Origins and functions of positive and negative affect: A control-process view. Psychological Review, 97, 19–35.
Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1998). On the self regulation of behaviour. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2001). Optimism, pessimism, and self- regulation. In E. C. Chang (Ed.), Optimism and pessimism: Implications for theory, research, and practice (pp. 31–51). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Costa, P.T.,Jr. & McCrae, R.R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Denny, K.G., & Steiner, H. (2009) External and Internal Factors Influencing Happiness in Elite Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Human Development Volume 40, Issue 1 , pp 55-72

Diener, E. (1994). Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities. Social Indicators Research, 31, 103–157.
Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2002). Will money increase subjective well-being? Social Indicators Research, 57, 119–169.
Diener, E., Colvin, C. R., Pavot, W. G., & Allman, A. (1991). The psychic costs of intense positive affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61,
492–503.
Diener, E., & Fujita, F. (1995). Resources, personal strivings, and subjective well-being: A nomothetic and idiographic approach. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 926–935.
Diener, E., Gohm, C. L., Suh, E., & Oishi, S. (2000). Similarity of the relations between marital status and subjective well-being across cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 31,

Larsen, R. J., & Ketelaar, T. (1991). Personality and susceptibility to positive and negative emotional states. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 61, 132–140419–436
Lucas, R. E., & Diener, E. (2003). The happy worker: Hypotheses about the role of positive affect in worker productivity. In M. Burrick & A. M. Ryan (Eds.),
Personality and work (pp. 30–59). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Lyubomirsky, S., & Ross, L. (1997). Hedonic consequences of social comparison: A contrast of happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73,
1141–1157.
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9,
111–131.

Hutchinson, G.T. (1998) Irrational Beliefs and Behavioral Misregulation in the Role of Alcohol Abuse Among College Students. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. Volume 16, Issue 1 , pp 61-74

Morgan, M. et al (2014) Redefining Happiness: Is the Happiness Pie Literature Missing Some Slices? http://tigerprints.clemson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=foci Research oster session.

Pinquart, M., & Sorensen, S. (2000). Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 15, 187–224
Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2005). Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 925–971
Salovey, P., & Rosenhan, D. L. (1989). Mood states and prosocial behavior. In H. Wagner & A. Manstead (Eds.), Handbook of social psycho-physiology
(pp. 371–391). Chichester, England: Wiley

Soto, C.J. (2014) Is Happiness Good for Your Personality? Concurrent and Prospective Relations of the Big Five With Subjective Well-Being. Journal of Personality. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12081

TRóGOLO, M., MEDRANO, L.. Personality traits, difficulties in emotion regulation and academic satisfaction in a sample of argentine college students. International Journal of Psychological Research, North America, 5, dec. 2012

Thoresen, C. J., Kaplan, S. A., Barsky, A. P., Warren, C. R., & de Chermont, K. (2003). The affective underpinnings of job perceptions and attitudes: A meta-analytic review and integration. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 914–945
Verkley, H., & Stolk, J. (1989). Does happiness lead into idleness? In R. Veenhoven (Ed.), How harmful is happiness? (pp. 79–93). Rotterdam, Amsterdam: University of Rotterdam.
Wilson, W. (1967). Correlates of avowed happiness. Psychological Bulletin, 67,294–306

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Does Happiness Lead to Success?

Does Happiness Lead to Success?

Most people assume that successful people are happy. Many studies have found that things like positive relationships, comfortable income, good mental health and accomplishment are all related to happiness. One study found that whilst having a comfortable income, i.e. not being anxious about money on a continual basis is one of the factors which can underlie happiness, more money does equate to greater levels of happiness. They found that the wealthy do not have more happiness than those on lower income levels.

In all of the studies good relationships and friendships consistently rank high for promoting happiness. More recently studies have found that contributing or volunteering towards a good cause or doing a good deed also has a significant positive effect on people's happiness.

An interesting question is whether or not happy people tend to do better in life?
There is a growing body of evidence to show that happy people tend to broaden and build resources and resourcefulness. They tend to build more positive and deeper relationships with others which in turn can lead to greater levels of happiness.

Researchers have found that positive people often tend to use the happy periods of their life to develop and strive to attain new goals, which leads to greater life satisfaction. in effect positive people see a new challenge and take action. This action then often leads to achievement which in turn leads to a feeling of success and contentment and more positive constructions of the world. There is a sense of having not just control over their lives, but positive control and good feelings or happiness. This then promotes confidence, greater levels of optimism and self belief. It has also been found that these attributes lead to their becoming more likeable to others and they are also more likely to be more positive and charitable towards other people. This then leads to greater levels of sociability, more prosocial behaviour which is also correlated with greater levels of activity and energy.

Further studies have found that positive happy people tend to suffer from less general ill-health in that they have greater levels of immunity to things like colds etc. Additionally studies have found that positive happy people also tend to be more effective in coping with life challenges and stress and they show greater levels of creativity, problem solving ability and general cognitive flexibility.

In effect happy people often have greater levels of active involvement in goal oriented pursuits. A positive perspective promotes approaching situations as opposed to avoidance, which in turn leads to a greater chance of success.

One large scale meta-analysis of previous research published in 2005 found that happy positive people are significantly more likely to succeed in their job and receive higher job ratings from employers and managers than people who were less positive and are not as generally happy. There is a range of evidence now appearing that shows that because of these effects, happy, positive people tend to be more successful across a range of activities, including work.

For a FREE 16 part video course showing you how to be Calm, Composed and Confident click here

 

References

Argyle, M., & Martin, M. (1991). The psychological causes of happiness. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 77–100). Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.

Aspinwall, L. G. (1998). Rethinking the role of positive affect in self-regulation. Motivation and Emotion, 22, 1–32.

Aspinwall, L. G., & Brunhart, S. M. (1996). Distinguishing optimism fromdenial: Optimistic beliefs predict attention to health threats.Personalityand Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 993–1003.

Lyubomirsky, S., King, L. & Diener, E. (2005) The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?Psychological Bulletin 2005, Vol. 131, No. 6, 803–855

Berscheid, E. (2003). The human's greatest strength: Other humans. In L. G. Aspinwall & U. M. Staudinger (Eds.), A psychology of human strengths: Fundamental questions and future directions for a positive psychology (pp. 37–47). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Attention and self-regulation: A control-theory approach to human behaviour. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1990). Origins and functions of positive and negative affect: A control-process view. Psychological Review, 97, 19–35.

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1998). On the self regulation of behaviour. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2001). Optimism, pessimism, and self- regulation. In E. C. Chang (Ed.), Optimism and pessimism: Implications for theory, research, and practice (pp. 31–51). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Diener, E. (1994). Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities. Social Indicators Research, 31, 103–157.

Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2002). Will money increase subjective well-being? Social Indicators Research, 57, 119–169.
Diener, E., Colvin, C. R., Pavot, W. G., & Allman, A. (1991). The psychic costs of intense positive affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61,
492–503.

Diener, E., & Fujita, F. (1995). Resources, personal strivings, and subjective well-being: A nomothetic and idiographic approach. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 926–935.

Diener, E., Gohm, C. L., Suh, E., & Oishi, S. (2000). Similarity of the relations between marital status and subjective well-being across cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 31,

Larsen, R. J., & Ketelaar, T. (1991). Personality and susceptibility to positive and negative emotional states. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 61, 132–140419–436

Lucas, R. E., & Diener, E. (2003). The happy worker: Hypotheses about the role of positive affect in worker productivity. In M. Burrick & A. M. Ryan (Eds.),
Personality and work (pp. 30–59). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lyubomirsky, S., & Ross, L. (1997). Hedonic consequences of social comparison: A contrast of happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73,
1141–1157.

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9,
111–131.

Pinquart, M., & Sorensen, S. (2000). Influences of socioeconomic status, social network, and competence on subjective well-being in later life: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 15, 187–224

Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2005). Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 925–971

Salovey, P., & Rosenhan, D. L. (1989). Mood states and prosocial behavior. In H. Wagner & A. Manstead (Eds.), Handbook of social psycho-physiology
(pp. 371–391). Chichester, England: Wiley

Thoresen, C. J., Kaplan, S. A., Barsky, A. P., Warren, C. R., & de Chermont, K. (2003). The affective underpinnings of job perceptions and attitudes: A meta-analytic review and integration. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 914–945

Verkley, H., & Stolk, J. (1989). Does happiness lead into idleness? In R. Veenhoven (Ed.), How harmful is happiness? (pp. 79–93). Rotterdam, Amsterdam: University of Rotterdam.

Wilson, W. (1967). Correlates of avowed happiness. Psychological Bulletin, 67,294–306

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