Beyond the Hedonic Treadmill Revising the Adaptation Theory of Well-Being Diener, E., Lucas, R.E., & Scollon Abstract…. • Recent evidence suggests that 5 important revisions are needed in the hedonic treadmill theory of subjective well-being. • The article aims is to put forward these important revisions and the evidence for them. Introduction…. • Brickman and Campbell’s (1971) hedonic treadmill theory. • Widely accepted model of subjective well- being. • ..“No matter how much effort and care someone puts into being happy, the long term effects are no different than if she or he lived a profligate and dissolute life”.. • In 1978 Brickman, Coates and Janoff- Bulman offered empirical support for the treadmill model. • 1)Found lottery winners were no happier than nonwinners • 2)Found people with paraplegia were not substantially less happy than those who could walk. • The authors themselves also readily accepted the theory, and some of Diener’s own work could be explained by it. • 1)Diener et al. (1993) found income and happiness correlated only .13 in the US. • 2)Diener et al. (1995) found objective physical attractiveness correlated at very low levels with well-being. • 3)Okun and George (1984) found that objective health on average only correlated .08 with happiness. • 4)Suh et all (1996)-bad life events affected happiness only if occurred in past 2 months. • So parts of model have received robust empirical support. Revision 1: Nonneutral Set Points • The original model suggests that following major life events people soon return to a neutral set point. But… • 1)A review by Diener and Diener (1996) found three quarters of the sample reported affect balance scores above neutral. • 2)World Values Survey-80% very or quite happy. Revision 2:Individual Set Points • They vary…. • Due to inborn personality-based influences • 1)Level of well-being reasonably stable. • 2)Well-being moderately heritable. • 3)Personality factors strong correlates of well-being variable. Eg any single demographic factor typically correlates less than 0.2 with well-being….personality much more. Revision 3: Multiple Set Points • To further test the separability 0f well being components Diener and colleagues looked at stability of positive ad negative affect over time…. • 1)Various components exhibited differential stability • 2) Stability of positive affect declined with longer time periods, whereas the stability of negative affect did not. • These findings suggest stable individual baselines might be more characteristic of positive than negative affect. Revision 4: Happiness can change Further support well-being can change…. • Longitudinal individual data…. • Lucas et al (2003) • They found, in accordance with adaptation theories, that Germans did not get lasting boosts in happiness after marriage. • However Widows and Widowers, people laid off from work, and individuals who divorced all reported lasting changes in life satisfaction. Revision 5: Individual Differences in Adaptation • Evidence that size and direction of change in life satisfaction differed considerably across individuals. • Two important research traditions which focus on when people do or do not adapt: • 1)Utility of specific coping strategies eg. Reappraisal=more positive emotions, older individuals=humour. • 2)Personality characteristics influence coping eg. Neuroticism=ineffective coping strategies Optimism=active coping/ strategies that can change the situation. Implications….. • Adaptation should not be refuted completely. • Instead the psychological processes which underlie adaptation must be reconsidered. • Interventions can be successful…. • Eg. Sheldon and Lyubomirsky-random acts of kindness • Eg. Seligman et al (2005)-interventions via the internet • Lasting changes among individuals-worth organisational changes? • Diener and Seligman-system of national accounts of well- being (2004) • Evidence here suggests such a system to improve happiness would not be doomed by the hedonic treadmill. Future research… • A number of issues remain unresolved… • 1)Why do adaptation affects appear to vary across different events? • 2) Can people slow adaptation to good events and speed recovery from bad events? • 3)Do some components of well-being adapt more readily than others? Finally…. • The authors conclude by stressing the importance of large, representative samples, and longitudinal methodologies. • Furthermore they point to the importance of further research of factors suggesting adaptation is NOT inevitable, like individual differences, to find effective interventions aimed at improving subjective well-being.