Beyond the Hedonic Treadmill Deiner,

111). Despite the pessimism the authors correlate to the theories of hedonic adaptation and genetic determinism, they cite recent research that indicated increases in happiness can be permanently made. To this end, Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schikade surmise there are three primary factors that affect a persons happiness level.

An individuals genetically predetermined happiness set point is on of the three major factors in chronic happiness for an individual, as noted by Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schikade (2005). These set points are unique to each individual, and are affected by the persons innate personality characteristics. Those who are extraverts often will be socially more engaging, enthusiastic, and self-confident. In contrast, those who are more neurotic are more likely to be more worried, ruminate more and prone to more guilt, according to the authors. These natural tendencies result in differing predetermined happiness set points.

A second factor that affects an individuals happiness level are the happiness-relevant circumstantial factors that the individual experiences throughout their life. These are relatively stable factors in the persons life, but outside of the individuals control.

These may include geographical, national, cultural, and demographic factors including gender, age and ethnicity. These factors also include the personal history of the individual and the individuals life status. Lastly, happiness-relevant activities are critical to an individuals chronic happiness level. The authors surmise that individuals have to learn to sometimes partake in happiness-relevant activities that are not enjoyable to forego happiness in the short-term, in exchange for long-term happiness. These, in fact, should become habitual activities in order to promote a continued happiness, negating the natural reversion to a hedonic neutral, as expressed in the hedonic treadmill theory.


Diener, E., Lucas, R. & Scollon, C. (May-June 2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill. American Psychologist, 61(4), 305-314.

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing.

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