|« Press Releases|
Contact (media enquiries only)
DEPENDING ON AGE, EXCITEMENT OR CALM LEADS TO HAPPINESS
Los Angeles, CA (February 14, 2011) For some people, excitement leads to happiness, and for others, nothing brings happiness so much as a peaceful life. Which you prefer depends on how old you are, and whether you focus on living in the moment or planning for the future, according to an article in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).
To study the relationship between excitement, calm and happiness, Cassie Mogilner of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, with colleagues Sep Kamvar and Jennifer Aaker of Stanford University, searched 12 million sentences posted on Internet blogs that contain the words “I feel” or “I am feeling.” From these, they found more than 70,000 sentences that included the word “happy” and for which they could also identify the blogger’s age.
For the youngest bloggers, “happy sentences” tended to include excitement words like ecstatic, giddy, excited and elated. But as bloggers got older, fewer excitement words were used. Instead their happy sentences contained words like relaxed, calm, peaceful, and relieved.
The researchers had people come into the laboratory and listen to two versions of the song “Such Great Heights,” one fast and exciting, the other quite calming. Participants under 25 years were happiest after hearing the exciting version of the song, while participants over 50 years were happiest after hearing the calm version.
Mogilner and her colleagues suggest it isn’t strictly age that changes how we experience happiness, but rather the mindset that we bring to life. “As people get older, they became more present-focused, this change in present focus drives what happiness means.” When a 20-year old is asked which purchases made them happy, they mentioned excitement-related purchases (e.g., soccer shoes, caffeinated drinks, video game systems) while older adults tended to mention calmer purchases (e.g., yoga pants, herbal tea, bubble bath).
In early adulthood, happiness comes more from excitement, from looking toward the future, from planning possibilities and making them real. With age, happiness comes more from calm and contentment, and living most fully in the present. The authors say that this research “shows that we can choose which form of happiness we feel. By focusing on the present, young adults can redefine happiness as calm, rather than excitement.”
The article “The Shifting Meaning of Happiness” in Social Psychological and Personality Science is available free for a limited time at: http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/12/15/1948550610393987.full.pdf+html.
Contact: Cassie Mogilner, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Email firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (215) 898-1228
Social Psychological and Personality Science is a cutting-edge journal of succinct reports of research in social and personality psychology. SPPS is sponsored by a consortium of the world’s leading organizations in social and personality psychology representing over 7,000 scholars on six continents worldwide. http://spps.sagepub.com
SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology, and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. www.sagepublications.com