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Think having children will make you happy?. Nattavudh Powdthavee (2009). Introduction. Why use an article from The Psychologist?
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Think having children will make you happy? Nattavudh Powdthavee (2009)
Introduction • Why use an article from The Psychologist? • Can we deliberately boost happiness? Happiness come hand in hand with better social relationships, academic and occupational success, good health and even a longer life (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005)
British Research British parents and non-parents report the same levels of life satisfaction (Powdthavee, 2008) European and American Research Parents report statistically lower levels of happiness (Alesina et al., 2004) Life satisfaction (Di tella et al., 2003) Marital satisfaction (Twenge et al., 2003) Mental well-being (Clark and Oswald, 2002) Previous Research
The Focusing Illusion • What is focusing illusion? • Focusing our attention on something we tend to think it is more important than it really is.
The Focusing Illusion • Sleepless nights • Expense • Anxiety • Nappy Changing • The effects of children on adults’ psychological wellbeing (McLanahan & Adams, 1989)
The Focusing Illusion: The Research • Theory of super-replicators (Gilbert, 2006) • Californians versus Mid-Westerns Happiness (Schkade & Kahneman, 1998) • Life Satisfaction (Clark and colleagues, 2008)
Ups and Downs Vs.
Ups and Downs • The meaningful experiences that children provide parents with give them massive increases in happiness. However these surges in happiness tend not to last very long, why not? • The rare experiences children bring can be compared to winning the lottery (Kahneman et al., 2006) 2. Parents spend most of their time attending to the core processes having children brings
Ups and Downs: is this surprising? • No! • It is no surprise the negative day-to-day experiences show up on subjective well-being questionnaires. • Parents are not being prompted about the happiness their children bring, but instead are being asked about their general day-to-day life and how this makes them feel.
Future Research • Data sets - only developed countries used up until now…what about the developing nations? • Defined Research • More specific questions to allow a more specific • answer • i.e. what is the optimal number of children for • maximal happiness?
To conclude: a comfortable illusion? • Consistent evidence that there is almost no association between having children and happiness • Powdthavee concludes that we have a comfortable illusion that children bring happiness • In reality, it is day-to-day experiences which, in relation to parenthood tend to be negative, generate our levels of happiness • However, if asked directly ‘Do your children make you happy?’, the answer is always yes. • So what do we learn from all of this…..?
To this… (statistically at least!!)