Can Social and Political Views Affect Happiness?

464

Ever wondered why Singaporeans are unhappy? A study recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology may have some clues about why we are an unhappy bunch. The article analyzed data from 16 European countries and it came to some interesting conclusions in regard to the affect of politics on the happiness of citizens. The data came from the surveys of more than a million people between the years 1970 and 2002.

The study has two major points for its readers. The first is that people that live in more liberal societies tend to have a higher state of happiness irrespective of their own political view points and the other is that conservatives tend to be happier than liberals regardless of the type of society that they live in.

When you put the two findings together, it means that conservatives living in liberal societies will rate their happiness higher than most others do. And in the case of Singapore, the liberals in our conservative society are unhappy about the direction the government is taking.

Dr. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn of Rutgers University in New Jersey is the study’s lead author and he explains it by saying, “Liberal governments tend to do more to shield citizens against certain hardships, such as unemployment and poverty, which can make people feel happier overall. On the other hand, conservatives rate their well-being higher than liberals because conservatives more readily support and rationalize the status quo, thus, believing that socioeconomic hardships are a result of individual shortcomings.”

In the study, researchers determined liberal governments from conservative governments by analyzing access to social services in the different countries and by the level of budgetary spending that their governments assign to social welfare programs.

To determine the political views of citizens and their level of happiness, the researchers used information from surveys that asked citizens to identify their political orientation and to rate their overall satisfaction with life.

Similar studies have been done in the past and in different regions of the world and, for the most part, they all tend to come to similar conclusions. However, there is debate within psychology as to why these results seem to exist.

While this probably will not do much for the individual citizen in regard to increasing happiness, it might be useful to governments. As the study author said, “Politics is everywhere, and our findings suggest that citizens are best served when governments and organizations work together by instituting policies that have been shown to increase citizens’ well-being.”

If only our politicians can take a leaf from this journal and implementing in our society – now, that would save them lots of worry.

Comments are closed.