慶應SFC 2006年 総合政策学部 英語 大問1 全文(正答済み)

 It’s probably impossible for most Americans even to begin to understand how it must feel to live in the extreme poverty of Calcutta, India, surviving in a crude shack or on the street with little, if any, access to clean water, nutritious food or decent health care. The filth. The crowds. The disease. From the perspective of the comfortably housed, amply fed and lavishly entertained, such conditions sound hopeless, and the suffering they must breed seems unimaginable.

 But not as unimaginable as this: according to a respected researcher who employs a method of ranking human happiness on a scale of 1 to 7, poor Calcutta’s score about a 4, suggesting they’re slightly happier than not. They may not be as happy as average Americans (who are pretty happy, statistically speaking, and positively euphoric when compared with the dissatisfied Russians and sad Lath unions, but there certainly happier than one might expect.

 The enormous assumption behind this finding, of course, is that happiness, like Olympic figure skating, can really be scored numerically at all and that the judges who score it don’t even need to come from the same countries or speak the same languages as the people there judging. Robert BiswasDiener, a professor of psychology at Portland State University in Oregon and the mind behind the Calcutta study, believes this. Biswas-Diener has worked extensively with his father, the noted University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diner, to evaluate the “Subjective Well-being” (SWB), as they call it, of people around the globe, from Masa warriors in East Africa to Inuit hunters in Northern Greenland, inviting them to answer various questions about their moods and outlook. The results have led them to one sweeping conclusion: human beings, no matter where they live, and almost without regard to how they live, are, in the elder Diner’s words, “preset to be happy.”

 Ed Diner thinks of this predilection as a “gift” bestowed on people by evolution that helps us adapt and flourish even in fairly trying circumstances. But there are other theories. Maybe, he thinks, were “socialized” to be happy, in order to facilitate smooth social functioning. Whatever the reasons for this gift, however, its benefits don’t seem to be evenly distributed around the globe.

 Latin Americans, for example, are among the happiest people in the world, according to study after study. An international survey of college students in the mid­1990s compared so-called national differences in positivity and ranked Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Spain as the three most cheerful. To those who equate happiness with digital cable and ice­cube-dispensing refrigerator doors, these results may be surprising. But not to Ed Diner. For him, the astonishingly high spirits of the relatively poor Puerto Ricans and Colombians Stem from a “positivity tendency” that “may be rooted in cultural norms regarding the value of believing in aspects of life in general to be good.”We take this to mean that Latin Americans are happier because they look on the sunny side of life.

 This positivity tendency does not appear to be popular in East Asia. Among the bottom five in the study are Japan, China, and South Korea. “We have found that East Asians tend to weight the worst areas of their lives when computing their life satisfaction, Ed Diner reports. That’s the weight of cultural expectation, says Shigehiro Oishi, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, who does research on the connection between culture and wellbeing. According to Oishi, in most North American and western European cultures there is a general tendency to value happiness. In the U.S., when people ask how you are, you have to say, “I’m fine”, but in Japan, you can say, “I’m dying.”And even if you are thriving in Asia, lifting yourself above others by proclaiming your O. Knees in public may clash with broader goals which go beyond the immediate individual goals, says Oishi. So you don’t.

 If Colombians are happy mostly because they really like to be and Japanese are not so happy because, for them, happiness isn’t part of the plan, it would seem to follow that SWB has less to do with material wellbeing and more to do with attitude. This leads one, of course, to the case of the French. Oishi notes that a “happy-go-lucky attitude” is not highly valued there, and thus France ranks lower than Denmark or Sweden on happiness surveys. From this we might conclude that the Danes are happier than the French. Yet the French report themselves to be healthier than the Danes do. And happy or not, the French live longer than the Danes.“This is a sort of paradox,” says Oishi. Well, not if you really know French people.

 Biswas-Diener too feels that attitude counts but also notes that highly developed nations in the individualistic West do, as a group, score consistently high, suggesting that it doesn’t hurt a country to pave its highways and disinfect its water supply.Happiness wise, attitude gets people over the hump – but it doesn’t get them to the mountaintop.

 Consider the case of the United States. In the study of international college students, America ranked a respectable eighth, statistically tied with Slovenia. The US’s leaders were slightly pained by this, no doubt, whereas Slovenia’s leaders were overjoyed. It would appear from these results that merely living as if you are No. 1, and running around the world shouting you are No. 1, doesn’t mean that you feel like No. 1 inside.

 Biswas-Diener did further research by comparing the SWB scores of the impoverished Calcuttans with those of some homeless Californians in Fresno. Although the Californians had the advantage of decidedly better social welfare, they lagged behind the Calcutta’s in happiness. One factor may be the lofty expectations Americans have for themselves and the despair they feel when they fall short of them. Or, as Biswas-Diener has suggested, the difference may come down to simple loneliness. Poor Calcutta’s, he observes, tend to live surrounded by their families, while the poor Californians are very often out there on their own.

 Biswas-Diener cautions that national-happiness rankings are crude, simplistic instruments. They don’t reflect, for instance, the unique experiences of certain subcultures or the differing outlooks of people in the countryside and those in the city. Still, it’s interesting and quite amusing to gaze at the big scoreboard and speculate about what makes Puerto Ricans so cheerful and South Koreans so somber, and why the American Dream and the Slovenian Dream, by one measure, inspire identical levels of contentment. The key is to take the rankings lightly. To draw a profound moral from global-happiness studies would be futile.




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