by Ruut Veenhoven
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1984, Dordrecht Netherlands, ISBN 90-277-1792-3, pp 374-404,

Chapter 9

The aim of this study was to identify the conditions that favor a positive appreciation of life. To that end I took stock of the results of empirical investigations on happiness. After a laborious search and a sharp selection I was able to lay hands on 150 publications up to 1975, reporting altogether 156 usable research projects covering 245 populations. Close reading of the reports brought some four thousand findings to light; for the major part correlational ones. In the foregoing three chapters I presented these findings. The question is now whether that left us any the wiser.

At first sight the answer is: not much. Though the data are abundant, their quality is rather poor. Much of it is based on happiness indicators that are not ideal. More often than not there was doubt about the reality value of the correlations and it was characteristically unclear to what extent correlates represent causes.

Yet we are not entirely empty handed. Section 9/1 will show that there is at least reasonable certainty about the effects of some nineteen factors. These findings are largely new and several of them are relevant to policy decisions. Furthermore, it will be demonstrated that the inventory provides a good starting point to sketch out the field. As such it will appear a help in viewing the variety and interactions of factors affecting happiness and it will prove useful in selecting goals for further research. Even more important is that the data allow a thorough review of current beliefs about happiness. In section 9/2 I will expose several myths, some of which are deeply entrenched in public opinion and scientific thought. A better understanding of happiness begins with the correction of misconceptions.

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