Positive Psychology Research
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What Determines Emotional Well-Being? The Role of Adverse Experiences: Evidence Using Twin Data

What Determines Emotional Well-Being? The Role of Adverse Experiences: Evidence Using Twin Data | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) In this paper we use twin data from Australia to explore emotional well-being and its determinants. We aim to accomplish three things. First of all, using twin-fixed effects, and purging the estimates of common family environment and genetic similarities, we can test the robustness of previous findings in the well-being literature. We find that in the monozygotic twin-fixed effects estimations the marital status, health, years of education, and having low income preserve their significance, thus confirming the most pronounced stylized facts in the happiness literature. Second, using information about traumatic events, we test the validity of the adaptation hypothesis, according to which human beings can adapt to both positive and negative shocks and return to some setpoint level of life satisfaction. We find a strong negative effect of more recent traumatic events, such as being assaulted, being raped or being involved in an accident, which effects dissipate over time; thus, we confirm the validity of the adaptation hypothesis. Last but not least, we show that genetic dispositions are important for the within-pair variance of the emotional well-being.

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“…Do it with joy!” – Subjective well-being outcomes of working in non-profit organizations

“…Do it with joy!” – Subjective well-being outcomes of working in non-profit organizations | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

Working in non-profit organizations has been shown to be good for individuals’ satisfaction with their jobs despite lower incomes. This paper explores the impact of non-profit work on life satisfaction more general for the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and finds a significant positive impact the size about more than a fourth of that of getting widowed. This effect is quite uniform across the subjective well-being distribution, and thus exists also for those who are already happy. Shadow prices peg this effect at around 22,000 GBP p.a., the average amount of equivalent net household income in the sample analyzed (which is roughly 27,000 GBP p.a.). The positive effect can be explained by third sector workers enjoying their day-to-day activities more, being (affectively) happier and feeling that they are playing a useful role in their lives. (Note, this paper concludes that someone earning £27,000 per year at a non-profit organisation, would need to earn £49,000 per year at a private company to maintain the same level of life satisfaction).

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Experiential purchases and prosocial spending promote happiness by enhancing social relationships

(Available in free full text) Recent research on consumption and subjective well-being has revealed that experiential purchases and prosocial spending promote happiness by enhancing the purchasers? social relationships. This study (N = 1523) explored whether undergraduate students' consumption behaviors during summer break would be associated with their post-break happiness, and whether the consumption?happiness relationship would be mediated by a positive influence on their social relationships. The results showed that both experiential purchases and prosocial spending during summer break were associated with greater post-break happiness, but only when these purchases had a positive influence on the purchasers' social relationships. These effects remained significant after controlling for respondents' personality traits, financial standing, and sex. Moreover, both experiential purchases and prosocial spending were more likely to have a positive influence on social relationships than luxury purchases. These results are congruent with the recent exposition that experiential purchases and prosocial spending promote happiness by enhancing the purchasers? social relationships.

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The Effects of Short-Term Personal Goals on Subjective Well-Being.

The Effects of Short-Term Personal Goals on Subjective Well-Being. | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

Several studies demonstrated that subjective well-being is associated with goal value and perceived progress but their validity is affected by methodological biases. Moreover, a few have analysed the influence of short-term goals. We aimed to analyse how the levels of and changes in short-term goals progress and value influence subsequent levels of and changes in subjective well-being. This study adopted a three-wave longitudinal design with one-month intervals. Four hundred nine participants (186 males; age 19–71) reported their subjective well-being and their two most important goals and rated each over time in terms of value and progress. A latent difference score model revealed that levels and increases in goal progress positively influenced subsequent levels of subjective well-being. Goal value increases led to decreases in negative affect. These findings provide insights on the promotion of subjective well-being. Given the importance of goal progress in promoting subjective well-being, we propose the implementation of goal-setting programmes that are aimed at fostering successful goal pursuit.

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What Factors are Associated with Flourishing? Results from a Large Representative National Sample.

What Factors are Associated with Flourishing? Results from a Large Representative National Sample. | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) Flourishing is the ultimate end-state in psychology and a key-concept in the field of positive psychology research. Flourishers are those individuals with both high levels of hedonic well-being and eudaimonic well-being. Although many researchers have focused on one or another of these domains, only a few have investigated the comprehensive state of flourishing. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of flourishing and its association with socio-demographics, personality traits and situational factors. This study used data from the second wave of the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2), a national representative sample of adults in The Netherlands (n = 5303; 2010–2012). Findings were compared to having either high hedonic well-being or high eudaimonic well-being. Results showed that 37 % of the respondents were flourishers, mainly characterized by high levels of conscientiousness and extraversion and low levels of neuroticism. The situational factors of social support and positive life-events were significantly associated with flourishing when the analysis was controlled for socio-demographics and personality traits. Flourishing was most distinct from high hedonic well-being and showed parallelism with high eudaimonic well-being. More research is needed to establish a preferred flourishing instrument with validated cut-off points for flourishing and to understand the processes of situational factors that may underlie the promotion of flourishing. We recommend longitudinal designs and experience sampling studies to investigate the unique and modifiable predictors of flourishing. In addition, future research should include intervention studies that examine through which hedonic and eudaimonic pathways flourishing can be achieved.

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Can psychological interventions increase optimism? A meta-analysis

Can psychological interventions increase optimism? A meta-analysis | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) Greater optimism is related to better mental and physical health. A number of studies have investigated interventions intended to increase optimism. The aim of this meta-analysis was to consolidate effect sizes found in randomized controlled intervention studies of optimism training and to identify factors that may influence the effect of interventions. Twenty-nine studies, with a total of 3319 participants, met criteria for inclusion in the analysis. A significant meta-analytic effect size, g = .41, indicated that, across studies, interventions increased optimism. Moderator analyses showed that studies had significantly higher effect sizes if they used the Best Possible Self intervention, provided the intervention in person, used an active control, used separate positive and negative expectancy measures rather than a version of the LOT-R, had a final assessment within one day of the end of the intervention, and used completer analyses rather than intention-to-treat analyses. The results indicate that psychological interventions can increase optimism and that various factors may influence effect size.

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Good ... but note the very limited follow-up timing

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Margarita Tarragona's curator insight, September 15, 11:01 PM

Las intervenciones de psicología positiva aumentan el optimismo

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Twelve suggestions for exploring our character strengths (9 to 11): jobs, reminders, and meditations

Here are another three ideas/suggestions in this series.

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Twelve practical suggestions for exploring our character strengths (1 to 5): learning, spotting, relationships, and writing

As it says on the tin ... here are five exercises for deepening our understanding of character strengths.

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Good ... I hope!

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Going the Extra Mile: Perseverance as a Key Character Strength at Work.

Character strengths are durable positive attributes that contribute to well-being in life and at work. They are also hypothesized to contribute to the growth and flourishing of individuals and organizations. However, their associations with work performance and counterproductive work behaviors have rarely been studied. The present study seeks to identify character strengths most highly associated with work performance and counterproductive work behaviors and explores the role of individuals’ sense of meaning at work and work orientation in mediating these associations. An international sample (N = 686) completed the measures of strengths endorsement, work performance, counterproductive work behaviors, sense of meaning at work, and work orientation. Results pointed to perseverance as most highly associated with work performance and most negatively associated with counterproductive work behaviors. These associations were mediated by working individuals’ sense of meaning at work and perceptions of work as a career and as a calling. These findings highlight the contribution of perseverance to work performance and counterproductive behaviors, beyond the role of other character strengths, and highlight work meaningfulness and work orientation as psychological mechanisms underlying its effects.

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A short empirical note on perfectionism and flourishing

Flourishing describes an optimal state of mental health characterized by emotional, psychological, and social well-being. In a recent publication, Flett and Hewitt (2015) suggested that perfectionism prevents people from flourishing. Perfectionism, however, is a multidimensional personality characteristic, and its various dimensions show different relationships with indicators of subjective well-being. In the first empirical study of perfectionism and flourishing, we examined the relationships of multidimensional perfectionism (self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism) and self-reported flourishing in the past two weeks. Results from the sample of 388 university students revealed that only socially prescribed perfectionism showed a negative relationship with flourishing, whereas self-oriented perfectionism showed a positive relationship. These results were unchanged when positive and negative affect were controlled statistically. Our findings indicate that not all dimensions of perfectionism undermine flourishing and that it is important to differentiate perfectionistic strivings and concerns when regarding the perfectionism–flourishing relationship.

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Outcomes of a Character Strengths–Based Intervention on Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy of Psychiatrically Hospitalized Youths

Outcomes of a Character Strengths–Based Intervention on Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy of Psychiatrically Hospitalized Youths | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

Objective: Mental health treatment approaches based on character strengths can be used to complement the traditional focus on functional impairment. The study tested use of a character strengths–based intervention to enhance the self-esteem and self-efficacy of psychiatrically hospitalized youths.  Methods: Eighty-one hospitalized adolescents were randomly assigned to intervention or comparison groups. The intervention used the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth to discover character strengths and incorporate them into coping skills. Self-efficacy and self-esteem were measured at baseline, postintervention, two weeks, and three months.  Results: Self-esteem and self-efficacy initially increased in both groups, but only the intervention group showed sustained improvement. The intervention was associated with increased self-efficacy at two weeks and increased self-efficacy and self-esteem at three months.  Conclusions: A brief, easily administered character strengths–based intervention may be an adjunctive tool in the treatment of psychiatrically hospitalized youths.

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Accumulative job demands and support for strength use: Fine-tuning the job demands-resources model using conservation of resources theory.

Absenteeism associated with accumulated job demands is a ubiquitous problem. We build on prior research on the benefits of counteracting job demands with resources by focusing on a still untapped resource for buffering job demands—that of strengths use. We test the idea that employees who are actively encouraged to utilize their personal strengths on the job are better positioned to cope with job demands. Based on conservation of resources (COR) theory, we hypothesized that job demands can accumulate and together have an exacerbating effect on company registered absenteeism. In addition, using job demands-resources theory, we hypothesized that perceived organizational support for strengths use can buffer the impact of separate and combined job demands (workload and emotional demands) on absenteeism. Our sample consisted of 832 employees from 96 departments (response rate = 40.3%) of a Dutch mental health care organization. Results of multilevel analyses indicated that high levels of workload strengthen the positive relationship between emotional demands and absenteeism and that support for strength use interacted with workload and emotional job demands in the predicted way. Moreover, workload, emotional job demands, and strengths use interacted to predict absenteeism. Strengths use support reduced the level of absenteeism of employees who experienced both high workload and high emotional demands. We conclude that providing strengths use support to employees offers organizations a tool to reduce absenteeism, even when it is difficult to redesign job demands. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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More encouraging strengths at work research.

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Religion and Well-Being: The Mediating Role of Positive Emotions

Research has consistently shown that endorsing a religion or spirituality is to some extent related to one’s well-being. Common studied explanations tap into the social and cognitive aspects of religion and spirituality. The present research aims at understanding how religiosity and spirituality exert their impact on well-being and investigates the role of a surprisingly neglected mechanism: positive emotions. Two cross-sectional studies using a quantitative approach are presented. In two different contexts (churchgoers in a European country and US university employees interested in meditation), results showed that the relation between religion (Study 1), spirituality (Study 2) and well-being is mediated by positive emotions. Distinguishing between more and less relevant positive emotions in a religious/spiritual context, it was found that the effect was mediated by self-transcendent positive emotions (awe, gratitude, love, and peace) but not by other positive emotions (amusement and pride).

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A Population-Based Study of Children’s Well-Being and Health: The Relative Importance of Social Relationships, Health-Related Activities, and Income

A Population-Based Study of Children’s Well-Being and Health: The Relative Importance of Social Relationships, Health-Related Activities, and Income | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

This study investigated how various risk and protective factors interface with child health and well-being at the population level. Specifically, we examined the association of income, social-contextual variables, and indicators of health-related habits and activities to children’s life satisfaction and perceived overall health. Child data were collected via a self-report survey, the Middle Years Development Instrument, which was administered in three demographically diverse Canadian school districts to 5026 grade 4 students (83 % of the students had complete data and were included in the analyses). Multiple regression and mediation analyses were conducted to examine the joint associations of social relationships with adults and peers, nutrition and sleep habits, and after school sports activities with children’s satisfaction with life and perceived health. Results indicate that peer belonging and relationships with adults at home and school were the strongest predictors of life satisfaction. Furthermore, the (small) association between income and life satisfaction was mediated by social relationship variables. Child reports of perceived health were predicted by peer belonging, adult relationships (home, school, neighborhood), after-school team sports, and nutrition habits. The (small) association between income and health was mediated by social relationships and team sports participation. Findings are discussed in light of previous research on social determinants and socio-economic gradients of children’s health and life satisfaction.

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Subjective wellbeing and longevity: Findings from a 22-year cohort study

Subjective wellbeing and longevity: Findings from a 22-year cohort study | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

Objective The health implications of positive affect (PA) are still a matter of debate. The present study examined the longitudinal relationships between subjective wellbeing (SWB) components (i.e., Life satisfaction, PA and negative affect (NA)) and all-cause mortality in older adults. Methods Discrete-time survival analysis within the structural equation modeling framework was applied to data from the PAQUID Cohort (n = 3777, baseline age 62–101 years) including ten time periods spanning 22 years. Time-invariant (age, gender, baseline life satisfaction, diabetes mellitus and hypercholesterolemia status) and lagged time-varying (PA, NA, dementia, functional status and self-rated health) predictors were included sequentially in the analyses. Results When included together in the model, only PA among the SWB components showed a significant association with longevity, which persisted (OR = .962, 95% CI = .938, .986) even after adjustment for the interaction between PA and NA, and after additional adjustment for prior medical conditions, functional status and self-rated health. Conclusions In congruence with positive psychology, PA proved to be an independent protective factor regardless of variations in NA, which did not seem to be a mortality risk factor.

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Working for Well-Being: Uncovering the Protective Benefits of Work Through Mixed Methods Analysis

Working for Well-Being: Uncovering the Protective Benefits of Work Through Mixed Methods Analysis | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

Previous research mostly defines the benefits of work as the absence of unemployment’s negative outcomes or as benefits to employers, such as increased productivity. This study uses mixed methods to investigate the ways that work can enhance the well-being of the worker. Two hundred and two participants from a rural area participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys. Participants’ qualitative discussions of work in the interviews were coded with grounded theory. The majority (74.8 %) of participants mentioned work at least once during the interview, which focused on prominent moments in their life stories, and 53.3 % of work mentions were positive. Two main themes encompassing the protective benefits of work arose: self-oriented benefits and other-oriented benefits. Each main theme was further divided into three subthemes. Self-oriented subthemes were autonomy, personal development, and empowerment; other-oriented subthemes were providing for dependents, generativity, and helping others. Participants spoke about how each of these benefits enhances their well-being and happiness. The empowerment subtheme was positively correlated with workplace integration and negatively correlated with financial strain. This study uncovered protective benefits of work that have not been addressed by previous scholarship. Qualitative data provided the flexibility to explore work-related domains for which quantitative scales do not currently exist. Work is one of the main activities of most adults, and the study of the psychological benefits of work can improve our understanding of adult well-being and happiness.

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Margarita Tarragona's curator insight, October 17, 11:07 AM

El trabajo puede contribuir al bienestar psicológico

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How Satisfied are the Self-Employed? A Life Domain View

How Satisfied are the Self-Employed? A Life Domain View | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

It is well-known in the literature that self-employment positively influences job satisfaction, but the effects on other life domains and overall life satisfaction are much less clear. Our study analyzes the welfare effects of self-employment apart from its monetary aspects, and focuses on the overall life satisfaction as well as different domain satisfactions of self-employed individuals in our German sample from 1997 to 2010. Using matching estimators to create an appropriate control group and differentiating between different types of self-employment, we find that voluntary self-employment brings with it positive benefits apart from work satisfaction, and leads to higher overall life satisfaction as well as increased health satisfaction, all of which increase in the first three years of self-employment. Being forced into self-employment to escape unemployment, however, confers no such benefits. Additionally, both types of self-employment lead to increasing dissatisfaction with one’s leisure time.

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Measuring Happiness and Overall Life Satisfaction: A Danish Survey Experiment on the Impact of Language and Translation Problems

Measuring Happiness and Overall Life Satisfaction: A Danish Survey Experiment on the Impact of Language and Translation Problems | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

The paper addresses language and translation problems in the most typical measures of happiness and overall life satisfaction in international surveys using an experimental design. In the experiment, randomly selected groups of Danish university students answered questionnaires in English and Danish, respectively. We found significant differences in the answers on both indices. As such, it was confirmed that the term “happy” is not the same in English and Danish. In Danish the word is similar to the German word “glücklich” which seems to refer to something stronger than just being “happy”. Perhaps more surprisingly, we also found a significant difference between the answers on “overall life satisfaction”, indicating that the answers given in Danish are too high as compared to the English ones. The differences are large enough to argue that such simple tests should be conducted before ranking countries in terms of these two well-established indices of subjective well-being.

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Twelve suggestions for exploring our character strengths (12): building up specific strengths exercise

The twelfth suggestion in this series is a bit different ... looking at growing strengths, not just at connecting with what's already there.

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Rounds out the twelve suggestions ...

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Margarita Tarragona's curator insight, September 6, 6:47 PM

12 ideas para explorar y cultivar nuestras fortalezas de carácter.

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Twelve suggestions for exploring our character strengths (6 to 8): supports, wellbeing, and new ways.

Here are three more in this series of a dozen practical ways for deepening our understanding & exploration of our character strengths.

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Strengths of character: head, heart & gut

Overviews recent developments in the classification of character strengths, linking to relevant research and available as a freely downloadable handout.

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My Better Self: Using Strengths at Work and Work Productivity, Organizational Citizenship Behavior, and Satisfaction.

Character strengths are hypothesized to contribute to human thriving. However, the effects of their use on individuals’ behaviors and attitudes at work, an important domain of modern life, have rarely been studied. In the present study, we examined associations of employees’ use of character strengths at work with productivity, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and job satisfaction. Based on the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, we suggested a multiple mediation model demonstrating how these associations are mediated by positive affect and engagement. Participants (N = 1,095) completed measures of strengths use, work productivity, OCB, job satisfaction, positive affect, and work engagement. As hypothesized, using strengths at work was associated with productivity, OCB, and job satisfaction, and these associations were mediated by higher positive emotions and engagement. The findings highlight the potential benefits of encouraging employees to use their strengths and point to positive affect and work engagement as mediating these effects.

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The humble path to progress: Goal-specific aspirational content predicts goal progress and goal vitality

The humble path to progress: Goal-specific aspirational content predicts goal progress and goal vitality | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

While previous research has demonstrated that striving for personal goals connected to intrinsic aspirations benefits psychological well-being, the relation between aspirational content and goal progress has remained unexamined. Using a multilevel modeling (MLM) approach in two longitudinal studies, we examined the relationship between life aspirations at the level of the person and the level of the goal, differentiating the ability of aspirations at both levels to predict later goal progress. We found that students made significantly more progress on (and were more likely to attain) their goals that were more intrinsic in aspirational content. These effects were goal-specific rather than person-driven. Study 2 replicated the findings of study 1 and also revealed an interaction between intrinsic aspirational content and progress in predicting goal-related affect. Specifically, we found that making progress on a goal that was more intrinsic in content led to greater feelings of vitality for that goal, while making progress on a less intrinsic goal did not. These findings highlight the benefits of setting goals connected to intrinsic aspirations (even for generally extrinsically-oriented individuals) and the value of shifting towards MLM approaches for research on goal pursuit.

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Much Ado About Grit: A Meta-Analytic Synthesis of the Grit Literature.

Grit has been presented as a higher order personality trait that is highly predictive of both success and performance and distinct from other traits such as conscientiousness. This paper provides a meta-analytic review of the grit literature with a particular focus on the structure of grit and the relation between grit and performance, retention, conscientiousness, cognitive ability, and demographic variables. Our results based on 584 effect sizes from 88 independent samples representing 66,807 individuals indicate that the higher order structure of grit is not confirmed, that grit is only moderately correlated with performance and retention, and that grit is very strongly correlated with conscientiousness. We also find that the perseverance of effort facet has significantly stronger criterion validities than the consistency of interest facet and that perseverance of effort explains variance in academic performance even after controlling for conscientiousness. In aggregate our results suggest that interventions designed to enhance grit may only have weak effects on performance and success, that the construct validity of grit is in question, and that the primary utility of the grit construct may lie in the perseverance facet. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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Sad ... but the fate of many "crazes" is to settle down to something more useful after taking a few bumps ...

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Revisiting the Relationship Between Marriage and Wellbeing: Does Marriage Quality Matter?

Revisiting the Relationship Between Marriage and Wellbeing: Does Marriage Quality Matter? | Positive Psychology Research | Scoop.it

This paper revisits the marriage and wellbeing relationship using variables reflecting marriage quality and data from the US, the UK and Germany. People in self-assessed poor marriages are fairly miserable and much less happy than unmarried people, even in the first year of marriages. However, people in self-assessed good marriages are even happier than the literature suggests. Women show greater range of responses to marriage quality than men. The effect of employment status and subjective health on happiness and the marriage effects on interpersonal trust and mental health change dramatically when marriage quality is controlled for. A strong link from happiness to marriage does not exist. However, happier people are more likely to stay single instead of being unhappily married, but less likely to stay single compared to being very happily married and happiness cannot predict staying single versus being pretty happily married.

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