Known as “Dr. Happiness”, Ed Diener is famous for his research on subjective well-being, which includes happiness, life satisfaction and positive affect. To him, happiness is not a destination, it is a process. He claimed that it is better to achieve happiness early in life because it will generate a more beneficial life.
Ed Diener was born in 1946 in Glendale, California on a farm. Even though his father, a successful farmer, wanted him to be his descendants, Ed’s parents supported him to pursue his passion in psychology. Besides his family support, he stated that his intense curiosity has also helped aided his career as a psychologist.
For an assignment in a research method class, he expressed his interest in studying happiness of farm workers. This proposal got rejected by his professor due to lack of valid and reliable measurements of happiness. He didn’t study happiness until 1981.
Ed Diener received his Ph.D. in personality psychology in 1974 at the University of Washington. In the 1980s, he traveled to South Africa as an expert witness, which is also when he moved on to study happiness. His current position is the Joseph Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, at the University of Illinois.
Well-being and happiness weren’t popular when Ed started his studies. The main reason was because happiness is thought to be difficult to define and measure. Ed mentioned that he has overcome much skepticism in conducting research. It wasn’t until late 1990’s when the field of subjective well-being gained attention and respect because of other renowned psychologists’ work.
Ed Diener’s research focuses on how to measure human well-being, outcomes of well-being, and extend to the influences personality and culture have on happiness and effects of income and materialism on happiness. He has developed many scales that are used widely to measure well-being. Some of the scales that are used broadly include the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE) and Flourishing Scale (FS).
One of Ed’s current researches is about national accounts of well-being, which can be useful to policy makers. This research concerns which measures are going to be used by what nations and how they should be used. In 2012, Ed Diener and William Tov published an article on this matter. The goals would be to enhance people’s lives and lessen suffering. Nations such as the United Kingdom are accepting the proposal in order to obtain the necessary information for a better and happier society.
Ed is also interested in the impact well-being and happiness makes on people’s lives. Happy people are found to be more successful in all sorts of domains. They also tend to live longer and perform more healthy behaviors such as eating healthy and exercising. Being healthy can also cause people to be happy. He called this a “virtuous cycle”. In addition, happy people are usually optimistic, extroverted and have personal control. His studies on happiness and marriage also show that happiness precede and cause good relations. Religion is also proven to be correlated with life satisfaction in highly religious societies.
The Happiest Person
Even though Ed Diener is one of many leading researchers in the field of subjective well-being, his assessments showed that he only scored average in levels of positive moods. He stated that having enjoyable goals is an important ingredient for happiness. Activities, relationships and attitudes toward one’s life are more important to achieve happiness than possessing materials and objects.
Ed’s goal in life is to improve the world. His aim for this field is to develop other measures other than self-report scales because of certain limitations. Besides, he expects to live happily for the next few decades. He also plans to help people and advance psychology.
The New Science of Happiness talk
Diener, Ed. "Subjective Well-being." Psychological Bulletin 95.3 (1984): 542-75. Web.
Diener, E., & Tov, W. (2012). National accounts of well-being. In K. C. Land, A. C. Michalos, & M. J. Sirgy (Eds.), Handbook of social indicators and quality of life research (pp. 137-156). New York, NY: Springer.
Myers, David G., and Ed Diener. "The Pursuit of Happiness." Scientific American 274.5 (1996): 70-72. Web.
Wallis, Claudia. "The Science of Happiness Turns 10. What Has It Taught?" Time. Time Inc., 08 July 2009. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
"Social Psychology Network." Ed Diener. Social Psychology Network, 9 June 2001. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
"Publications - Ed Diener, Subjective Well-Being." Publications - Ed Diener, Subjective Well-Being. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.