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How Are You, My Dearest Mozart? Well-being and Creativity of Three Famous Composers Based on their Letters

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Abstract

The well-being of a person is reflected in the language used. Building on 1,400 letters written by three famous music composers, I obtain well-being indices that span their lifetime. The validity of this methodology is shown by linking the indices with biographical information and through estimation of the determinants of well-being. I find, consistent with the literature, that work-related engagements and accomplishments are positively related with well-being, while poor health or death of a relative is detrimental. I then exploit the data and provide quantitative evidence on the existence of a causal impact of negative emotions on outstanding creativity, an association hypothesized across several disciplines since the Antiquity; however, not yet convincingly established for the case of extraordinary achievers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark in its series Discussion Papers of Business and Economics with number 20/2013.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: 17 Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sdueko:2013_020

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Postal: Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
Phone: 65 50 32 33
Fax: 65 50 32 37
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Web page: http://www.sdu.dk/ivoe
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Keywords: Well-being; happiness; positive emotions; negative emotions; creativity; health; labor; composer; letters; methodology; music history;

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  1. Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well-being and perceived social support in England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(3), pages 513-537.
  2. Dolan, Paul & Metcalfe, Robert, 2012. "The relationship between innovation and subjective wellbeing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1498.
  3. Karol Jan BOROWIECKI, 2011. "Are Composers Different? Historical Evidence on Conflict-induced Migration (1816-1997)," Trinity Economics Papers tep0811, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  4. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Martin Binder, 2013. "Innovativeness and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 561-578, April.
  6. Lasse Steiner & Lucian Schneider, 2013. "The happy artist: an empirical application of the work-preference model," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 225-246, May.
  7. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
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