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Contentment and Affect in the Estimation of Happiness

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  • Mariano Rojas

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  • Ruut Veenhoven

    ()

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Mariano Rojas & Ruut Veenhoven, 2013. "Contentment and Affect in the Estimation of Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 415-431, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:110:y:2013:i:2:p:415-431
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9952-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ruut Veenhoven, 1991. "Is happiness relative?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 1-34, February.
    2. 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.
    3. D. Shin & D. Johnson, 1978. "Avowed happiness as an overall assessment of the quality of life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 475-492, March.
    4. Mariano Rojas, 2005. "A Conceptual-Referent Theory of Happiness: Heterogeneity and its Consequences," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 74(2), pages 261-294, November.
    5. Alex Michalos, 1985. "Multiple discrepancies theory (MDT)," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 347-413, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10902-017-9854-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Camfield, Laura & Esposito, Lucio, 2014. "A Cross-Country Analysis of Perceived Economic Status and Life Satisfaction in High- and Low-Income Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 212-223.
    3. repec:eee:ecolec:v:148:y:2018:i:c:p:152-169 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Krzysztof Zagorski & Mariah Evans & Jonathan Kelley & Katarzyna Piotrowska, 2014. "Does National Income Inequality Affect Individuals’ Quality of Life in Europe? Inequality, Happiness, Finances, and Health," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 1089-1110, July.
    5. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:78-86 is not listed on IDEAS

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