3 to 1 and the importance of the 1

De Rivas, Sara; Álvarez-Bejarano, Abraham; Fernández-Dols, José Miguel; Rodríguez-Carvajal, Raquel and Quinones-Garcia, Cristina (2010). 3 to 1 and the importance of the 1. In: 5th European Conference on Positive Psychology, 23-26 Jun 2010, Copenhagen.

URL: http://www.ecpp2010.dk/ref8431.html?id=73


Positive psychology approach to human happiness has typically stressed positive subjective experiences. Lately, 3 to 1 ratio has been appointed as being the ideal ratio of positive vs. negative emotions in which one experiences happiness. Positive is important, but ¿what about negative? Parducci´s contextual theory of happiness takes into account habituation and contrast processes in relation to positive and negative events hence the importance of both. It relates hedonic judgments to particular mathematical principles, a frequency principle and a range principle, establishing concrete predictions. In this sense overall happiness would be maximized when shaped by a negative skewed distribution of events and happiness derived from a particular event would be maximized when shaped by a positive one. In this study happiness was examined as a function of the level of reward given after a computer task and kind of context in line with Parducci´s theory. An experimental design 2(context: negative skewed distribution of events vs. positive skewed distribution) x 3(reward: very high, medium, very low) was conducted. The sample consisted of sixty participants living in Spain, aged 18-59 years (mean=29), with 23 male and 37 female.Using ANOVA 2x3 analysis main effects and interaction effects were analyzed: context (F=11,267; p<.0001); reward (F=85,204; p<.0001) and interaction F=2,306; p<.006). Means were higher in the positive skewed context thus participants report to be happier given a reward within the positive skewed distribution context than given same reward within the negative skewed distribution context. The findings stress the importance of considering contextual theory of happiness and its implications. Awareness of happiness dynamics should lead us not to try to eliminate the negative per se. Negative is necessary as well as positive for one´s happiness.

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