World Database of Happiness, Introduction to Bibliography

Chapter 5

This bibliography involves a detailed subject classification as well.   The classification was developed in the context of the afore-mentioned review study in 1984 (Conditions of Happiness). It has been extended and refined since then, for the purpose of planned future reviews. The subject classification consists of 17 main categories. See table 7.Within each of these subject categories further differentiations are made. These sub-classifications are presented separately.


All the publications in this bibliography were collated in and inspected. The first author coded main and side-subjects by means of the above subject classification.


Any classification involves an emphasis on some aspects at the expense of others. This classification is no exeption. Its emphasis is on conditions that favour a positive appreciation of life, rather than on the processes involved. Process theories are enumerated in section 4 of the classification, but do not figure as a classification criterion. Consequently, this bibliography does not pave the way for the investigator who wants to review the evidence for a particular proces theory in different situations.
A second limitation is implied in the gradual development of this classification. The last entered studies were classified by means of a more fine-grained system than the first ones. Most of the early studies have been re-classified recently, but not all.
A third limitation is in the coding. The problem here is that it is of little use to enumerate any remark on any subject. Only 'major' contributions must be mentioned: either exhaustive treatments of some issue or unique views. However, it is not easy to decide what is important and what is trivial. Inevitably, such judgments are influenced by the coders orientation and alertness. No doubt, this has resulted in many arbitrary classifications and in serious omissions.

Table 7
Subject classification

principal categories

number of studies that deal with this subject


as main subject

as side subject

0 Study of happiness 72 18
2 Measurability of happiness 85 40
3 Indicators of happiness 192 60
4 Theory of Happiness 361 233
5 Happiness and Society 338 83
6 Happiness and Social Status 546 163
7 Happiness and Initimate ties 449 125
8 Happiness and Personal Resources 453 124
9 Happiness and Lifestyle 101 27
10 Happiness and Goals/aspirations 43 32
11 Happiness and Values/attitudes 96 37
12 Happiness and Appreciations 141 66
13 Happiness and Life-history 128 58
14 Happiness and Age-groups 40 661
15 Sociology of Happiness-ideas 220 78
16 Philosophy of Happiness 44 12
17 Happiness Trainings    
18 Special studies of Happiness 100 560