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Why are some people happier than others? The role of cognitive and motivational processes in well-being.

  • Author(s): Lyubomirsky, S
  • et al.
Abstract

Addressing the question of why some people are happier than others is important for both theoretical and practical reasons and should be a central goal of a comprehensive positive psychology. Following a construal theory of happiness, the author proposes that multiple cognitive and motivational processes moderate the impact of the objective environment on well-being. Thus, to understand why some people are happier than others, one must understand the cognitive and motivational processes that serve to maintain, and even enhance, enduring happiness and transient mood. The author's approach has been to explore hedonically relevant psychological processes, such as social comparison, dissonance reduction, self-reflection, self-evaluation, and person perception, in chronically happy and unhappy individuals. In support of a construal framework, self-rated happy and unhappy people have been shown to differ systematically in the particular cognitive and motivational strategies they use. Promising research directions for positive psychology in pursuit of the sources of happiness, as well as the implications of the construal approach for prescriptions for enhancing well-being, are discussed.

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