Well-Being : The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology

Overview

The nature of well-being is one of the most enduring and elusive subjects of human inquiry. Well-Being draws upon the latest scientific research to transform our understanding of this ancient question. With contributions from leading authorities in psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience, this volume presents the definitive account of current scientific efforts to understand human pleasure and pain, contentment and despair.

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Overview

The nature of well-being is one of the most enduring and elusive subjects of human inquiry. Well-Being draws upon the latest scientific research to transform our understanding of this ancient question. With contributions from leading authorities in psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience, this volume presents the definitive account of current scientific efforts to understand human pleasure and pain, contentment and despair.

The distinguished contributors to this volume combine a rigorous analysis of human sensations, emotions, and moods with a broad assessment of the many factors, from heredity to nationality, that bear on our well-being. Using the tools of experimental science, the contributors confront the puzzles of human likes and dislikes. Why do we grow accustomed and desensitized to changes in our lives, both good and bad? Does our happiness reflect the circumstances of our lives or is it determined by our temperament and personality? Why do humans acquire tastes for sensations that are initially painful or unpleasant? By examining the roots of our everyday likes and dislikes, the book also sheds light on some of the more extreme examples of attraction and aversion, such as addiction and depression.

Among its wide ranging inquiries, Well-Being examines systematic differences in moods and behaviors between genders, explaining why women suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than men, but are also more inclined to express positive emotions. The book also makes international comparisons, finding that some countries' populations report higher levels of happiness than others. The contributors deploy an array of methods, from the surveys and questionnaires of social science to psychological and physiological experiments, to develop a comprehensive new approach to the study of well-being. They show how the sensory pleasures of the body can tells us something about the higher pleasures of the mind and even how the effectiveness of our immune system can depend upon the health of our social relationships.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In their preface, the three editors (all psychologists) delineate their conception of a new field of psychology, naming it "hedonic psychology." They use as the dictionary defines it to refer to the full spectrum of enjoyment and suffering, rather than the term's narrower, more common reference to pleasure alone. The area has been neglected in favor of research on such other psychological functions as attention and memory. Twenty-one contributions are arranged in sections on conceptual and methodological issues in knowing who is happy; pleasures, pains, moods, and emotions; personality and individual differences; the social context; and biological perspectives. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871544247
  • Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
  • Publication date: 12/1/1999
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 7.82 (w) x 10.35 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Kahneman

DANIEL KAHNEMAN is Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and professor of public affairs at Princeton University.

ED DIENER is professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

NORBERT SCHWARZ is professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and senior research scientist at the Survey Research Center and the Research Center for Group Dynamics of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
1 Objective Happiness 3
2 Ecological Momentary Assessment 26
3 Measurement Issues in Emotion Research 40
4 Reports of Subjective Well-Being: Judgmental Processes and Their Methodological Implications 61
5 Wouldn't It Be Nice? Predicting Future Feelings 85
6 Preadaptation and the Puzzles and Properties of Pleasure 109
7 On the Pleasures of the Mind 134
8 Questions Concerning Pain 155
9 The Mood System 169
10 Emotions and Hedonic Experience 190
11 Personality and Subjective Well-Being 213
12 Life Task Participation and Well-Being: The Importance of Taking Part in Daily Life 230
13 Self-Regulation and Quality of Life: Emotional and Non-Emotional Life Experiences 244
14 Disturbances in Emotion 267
15 Personal Control and Well-Being 288
16 Hedonic Adaptation 302
17 Gender Differences in Well-Being 330
18 Causes and Correlates of Happiness 353
19 Close Relationships and Quality of Life 374
20 The Measurement of Welfare and Well-Being: The Leyden Approach 413
22 National Differences in Subjective Well-Being 434
23 The Physiology and Pathophysiology of Unhappiness 453
24 The Psychophysiology of Utility Appraisals 470
25 Can Neurobiology Tell Us Anything About Human Feelings? 489
26 On the Neural Computation of Utility: Implications from Studies of Brain Stimulation Reward 500
27 Pleasure, Pain, Desire, and Dread: Hidden Core Processes of Emotion 525
28 Neural Systems for Reinforcement and Inhibition of Behavior: Relevance to Eating, Addiction, and Depression 558
Contributors 573
Index 575
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