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Contentment and Affect in the Estimation of Happiness

  • Mariano Rojas

    ()

  • Ruut Veenhoven

    ()

How do we assess how happy we are? One theory is that we compare life-as-it-is with standards of how-life-should-be. In this view, happiness emerges from a cognitive evaluation that draws on socially constructed standard of the good life. Another theory holds that we rather infer happiness on the basis of how well we feel most of the time. In that view, happiness is an unreasoned affective experience that roots in the gratification of universal human needs. One question that emerges from this discussion is whether these are really independent ways of evaluating life. If so, a next question is what their relative weight is in the evaluation. These questions are addressed at the nation level using data of the Gallup World Poll over the years 2006–2010. This survey in 127 nations involves not only a question on overall life satisfaction, but also a more cognitively focused question on how close one’s life is to the best possible and a series of questions on yesterday’s mood. Analysis of average scores in nations shows that mood and contentment are much intertwined, but also add to overall life satisfaction independently, the former more than the latter. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11205-011-9952-0
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 110 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (January)
Pages: 415-431

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:110:y:2013:i:2:p:415-431
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11135

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  1. Rojas, Mariano, 2007. "Heterogeneity in the relationship between income and happiness: A conceptual-referent-theory explanation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-14, January.
  2. Mariano Rojas, 2005. "A Conceptual-Referent Theory of Happiness: Heterogeneity and its Consequences," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 74(2), pages 261-294, November.
  3. Alex Michalos, 1985. "Multiple discrepancies theory (MDT)," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 347-413, May.
  4. D. Shin & D. Johnson, 1978. "Avowed happiness as an overall assessment of the quality of life," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 475-492, March.
  5. Ruut Veenhoven, 1991. "Is happiness relative?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 1-34, February.
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