Psychological Universals in the Study of Happiness: From Social Psychology to Epicurean Philosophy

Science, Religion and Culture 6 (1):130-137 (2019)
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Within the framework of Positive Psychology and Needing Theories, this article reviews cultural practices or perceptions regarding what happiness is and how it can be achieved. Mainly research on Subjective Well-Being (SWB) has identified many cultural differences in the pursuit of happiness, often described as East-West splits along categories such as highly expressed affect vs. quiet affect, self-assertion vs. conformity to social norms, independence vs. interdependence and the like. However, it is the overall goal of this article to show that whatever the normative content of a culture’s or subculture’s view of happiness may be, it involves the same basic psychological needs beyond how people may choose to report or express resulting emotions. In particular, the theory of happiness proposed by the Hellenistic philosopher Epicurus provides broader, more inclusive categories and concepts which can be used to explain and possibly harmonize assumptions from particular traditions.

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Sasha S. Euler
Universität Hannover


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