Reconsidering happiness: The costs of distinguishing between hedonics and eudaimonia

  • Kashdan T
  • Biswas-Diener R
  • King L
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Abstract

In recent years, well-being researchers have distinguished between eudaimonic happiness (e.g., meaning and purpose; taking part in activities that allow for the actualization of one’s skills, talents, and potential) and hedonic happiness (e.g., high frequencies of positive affect, low frequencies of negative affect, and evaluating life as satisfying). Unfortunately, this distinction (rooted in philosophy) does not necessarily translate well to science. Among the problems of drawing too sharp a line between ‘types of happiness’ is the fact that eudaimonia is not well-defined and lacks consistent measurement. Moreover, empirical evidence currently suggests that hedonic and eudaimonic well-being overlap conceptually, and may represent psychological mechanisms that operate together. In this article, we outline the problems and costs of distinguishing between two types of happiness, and provide detailed recommendations for a research program on well-being with greater scientific precision.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aristotle
  • Eudaimonia
  • Happiness
  • Hedonics
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Meaning
  • Personal expressiveness
  • Psychological well-being
  • Self determination theory
  • Subjective well-being
  • The good life

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Authors

  • Todd B. Kashdan

  • Robert Biswas-Diener

  • Laura A. King

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