Abstract Chapter 4 Introductory text to Collection Distributional Findings on Happiness in Nations


This collection contains distributional data on happiness in nations. It provides information about average level and dispersion of happiness.

Happiness is defined as the degree to which an individual judges the overall quality of his life-as-a-whole favorably. Within this concept two ‘components’ of happiness are distinguished: hedonic level of affect (the degree to which pleasant affect dominates) and contentment (perceived realization of wants). These components represent respectively ‘affective’ and ‘cognitive’ appraisals of life and are seen to figure as subtotals in the overall evaluation of life, called overall happiness.

Happiness as defined here can be measured by means of questioning, and hedonic level also by observations of non-verbal behavior. Though happiness is measurable in principle, not all the questionnaires and observation schedules used for its measurement are deemed acceptable. The findings reported in this collection are based on measures of happiness that successfully passed a test for face-validity.

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