慶應SFC 2002年 環境情報学部 英語 大問1 全文(正答済み)

 Compared with misery, happiness is a relatively unexplored area for social scientists. Between 1967 and 1994, 46,380 articles indexed in Psychological Abstracts mentioned depression, 36,851 mentioned anxiety and 5,099 mentioned anger. Only 2,389 articles spoke of happiness, 2,340 of life satisfaction, and 405 of joy.

 Recently, a number of researchers have begun a systematic study of happiness. Dozens of investigators around the world have asked a cross-section of several hundred thousand people to reflect on their happiness and satisfaction with life — or what psychologists call “subjective well-being.” In the U.S., the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has surveyed a representative sample of roughly 1,500 people a year since 1957; the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan has carried out similar studies. Government-funded efforts have also studied the moods of European citizens.

 Using this data, researchers have uncovered some surprising findings. People are happier than one might expect, and happiness does not appear to depend significantly on external circumstances. Although viewing life as a tragedy has a long and honorable history, the responses of random  samples of people around the world paint a rosier picture.

 In the University of Chicago surveys, three in ten Americans say they are very happy, for example. Only one in ten chooses the most negative description, “not too happy.” The majority  describe themselves as “pretty happy.” The few exceptions to global reports of reasonable happiness include hospitalized alcoholics, new psychotherapy clients and people living under conditions of economic and political oppression.

 How can social scientists measure something as hard to pin down as happiness? Most researchers simply ask people to report their feelings of happiness or unhappiness and to  assess how satisfying their lives are. Such self-reported well-being is moderately consistent over years of retesting. Furthermore, those who say they are happy and satisfied seem happy to their close friends and family members and to a psychologist interviewer. Their daily mood ratings reveal more positive emotions, and they smile more than those who call themselves unhappy. Self-reported happiness also links to other  indicators of well-being. Compared with the depressed, happy people are less self-focused, less hostile and abusive and less susceptible to disease.

 Researchers have found that the even distribution of happiness cuts across almost all demographic classifications of age, economic class, race and educational level. In addition, almost all  research strategies for assessing subjective well-being turn up similar findings.

 Interviews with representative samples of people of all ages, for example, reveal that no time of life is especially happier or unhappier.  Similarly, men and women are equally likely to declare themselves “very happy” and “satisfied” with life, according to a statistical digest of 146 studies compiled by researchers at Arizona State University. Other researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Michigan summarizing surveys of 18,000 university students in 39 countries and 170,000 adults in 16 countries have supported these findings.

 Ethnicity also gives little clue to subjective well-being. African-Americans are only slightly less likely to feel “very happy” when compared to European-Americans. The National Institute of Mental Health found that the rates of depression and alcoholism among blacks and whites are roughly equal. Social psychologists at the University of California have also found that people in  disadvantaged groups maintain self-esteem by valuing things at which they excel, by making comparisons within their own groups and by blaming problems on external sources such as prejudice.

 Wealth is also a poor  predictor of happiness. People have not become happier over time as their cultures have increased in wealth. Even though Americans earn twice as much in today’s dollars as they did in 1957, the proportion of those telling interviewers from the National Opinion Research Center that they are “very happy” has declined from 35 to 29 percent.

 Even very rich people — those surveyed among Forbes magazine’s 100 wealthiest Americans — are only slightly happier than the average American. Those whose income has increased over a ten-year period are not happier than those whose income is stagnant. Indeed in most nations the  correlation between income and happiness is negligible — only in the poorest countries, such as Bangladesh, is income a good measure of emotional well-being.

 Are people in rich countries happier, by and large, than the people in not so rich countries? It appears in general that they are, but the margin may not be very large. In Portugal, for example, only one in ten people reports being very happy,  whereas in the much more prosperous Netherlands the proportion of very happy people is four in ten. Yet there are curious exceptions in this correlation between national wealth and well-being — the Irish during the 1980’s consistently reported greater life satisfaction than the wealthier West Germans. Furthermore, other factors, such as civil rights, literacy and the duration of democratic government, all of which also  promote a sense of life satisfaction, tend to go hand in hand with national wealth. As a result, it is impossible to tell whether the happiness of people in wealthier nations is based on money or is a byproduct of other important aspects of life.

 Although happiness is not easy to predict from material circumstances, it seems consistent for those who have it. In a National Institute on Aging study of 5,000 adults, the happiest people in 1973 were still relatively happy a decade later, despite changes in work, residence and family status.

 In a large number of studies, four traits  characterize happy people. First, especially in individualistic Western cultures, they like themselves. They have high self-esteem and usually believe themselves to be more ethical, more intelligent, less prejudiced, better able to get along with others and healthier than the average person. Second, happy people typically feel personal control. Those with little or no control over their lives — such as prisoners, nursing home patients, severely impoverished groups or individuals, and citizens of totalitarian regimes — suffer lower morale* and worse  health. Third, happy people are usually optimistic. Fourth, most happy people are extroverted*. Although one might expect that introverts* would live more happily in the calmness of their less stressed, contemplative lives, extroverts are happier — whether alone or with others.

 The correlation between these apparent connections is uncertain. Does happiness make people more outgoing, or are outgoing people more likely to be happy, perhaps explaining why they marry sooner, get better jobs and make more friends? If extrovert traits do indeed  predict happiness, people might become happier by acting in certain ways. In experiments people who pretend to have high self-esteem report feeling more positively about themselves, for example.

 Whatever the reason, the close personal relationships that characterize happy lives are also correlated with health. Compared with loners, those who can name several  intimate friends are healthier and less likely to die prematurely. For nine out of ten people, the most significant alternative to aloneness is marriage. Although a broken marriage can cause much misery, a good marriage apparently is a strong source of support. During the 1970s and 1980s, 39 percent of married adults told the National Opinion Research Center they were “very happy,” as compared with 24 percent of those who had never married. In other surveys, only 12 percent of those who had divorced  perceived themselves to be “very happy.” The happiness gap between the married and never married was similar for men and women.

 Religiously active people also report greater happiness. One survey found that highly religious people were twice as likely as those lowest in spiritual commitment to declare them very happy. Other surveys, including a collaborative study of 166,000 people in 16 nations, have found that reported happiness and life satisfaction  rise with the strength of religious affiliation and frequency of attendance at worship services. Some researchers believe that religious affiliation  encourages greater social support and hopefulness.

 Researchers on happiness are now beginning to examine happy people’s exercise routines, worldviews and goals. It is possible that some of the  patterns discovered in the research may offer clues for transforming circumstances and behaviors that work against well-being into ones that promote it. Ultimately, then, the scientific study of happiness could help us understand how to build a world that  enhances human well-being and to aid people in getting the most satisfaction from their circumstances.




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