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UMD / Psychology / PSYC 298 / Does love make us happy?

Does love make us happy?

Does love make us happy?


Haidt Chapter 9

Does love make us happy?

1. The human mind perceives a third dimension, a specifically moral dimension called “divinity”

2. Disgust helps people decide what to eat

3. People are grossed out about what’s on the outside, not the inside. Cancer in lungs versus cancer on hand example.

4. Ethics of autonomy, community, and divinity

5. Divinity and disgust must be kept separate

6. USA ethic of autonomy

7. Maslow founded humanistic psychology to encourage curiosity

8. Self is obstacle in spiritual advancement

9. Elevation has many forms

10. Moral devotion is different from admiration (moral obligations is calmer than admiration) 11. Nature makes people feel awed

12. Oxytocin causes bonding not action

What is falling in love?

13. Elevated thoughts didn’t transfer to action

Diener Chapter 7

1. Religions act as how-to manuals for living

2. Religious people are happier

3. Westboro baptist church has pessimistic view of world and they are less happy 4. Religion offers psychological comfort to the afterlife

5. It provides social support

6. Gives people something larger than themselves

Diener Chapter 4

1. If you were given unlimited wishes but were not allowed to have social relationships, you would be very unhappy. We also discuss several other topics like What happens in each stage of digestion?
Don't forget about the age old question of What are the example of gender issues?

2. People need other people to flourish If you want to learn more check out What was the missouri compromise in simple terms?

3. Supportive relationships are essential to happiness

4. Both introverts and extroverts were happier with people

5. Happy people tend to be more popular and likeable

What are the themes of intimacy ?

6. Groups give people a sense of identity

7. On average, married people are happier than single people

8. Passion is an incentive to start deeper relationships

9. There are two parts two marriage, passion at the beginning, and then companionship 10. Deficiency-love works only as long as your needs are stable

11. Communication is a predictor of marital satisfaction

12. The empty-nest increases marital satisfaction

13. There may be a dark side to happinessWe also discuss several other topics like What did the anti federalists believe?

Haidt Chapter 6

1. Behaviorists and psychoanalysts got it wrong when it came to child rearing 2. Babies need contact and comfort at a young age or they never develop social skills 3. Harry Harlow performed the rhesus monkey experiment that showed that baby monkeys needed soft comfort more than they wanted the milk-giving monkey.

4. Attachment theory: two basic goals guide children’s behavior: safety and exploration 5. Love is stronger than fear.

6. Resistant, avoidant, and secure attachment styles

7. Defining features of attachment style: proximity maintenance, separation distress, safe haven, secure base

8. Romantic partner can take the place of a parent in terms of attachment necessity 9. Human babies aren’t born with developed brains like most other animals 10. Fathers needed to start pulling their weight if they wanted their children to be evolutionarily successful

11. Two types of love: Companionate and Passionate

12. People need obligations and constraints in their lives to find meaning

13. Hell is other people...but so is heaven. - “John Godot in No Exit”

In Class Notes


● Positive mindset is motivated.

○ We tend to see the negative but we really want to see the positive

■ Pollyanna Principle

○ Mere Exposure Effect → Being around something makes you like it more Individual Differences Don't forget about the age old question of What's a covenant marriage mean?

● Attention to positive and negative stimuli.

● Existential threat (Death Anxiety)

● Disgust sensitivity

● Interpret faces as threatening

● Risk Aversion


● Conservatives are happier even though they score more negative

● They are more likely than liberals to see more negative things in their environment yet they are happier.

● However, liberals actually show more happiness *smile in photographs ● Conservatives are more traditional (old photographs and paintings didn’t show politicians smiling)

● People who are more conservative are more religious.

○ Religion predicts SWB and happiness usually

○ It is because of large group connectivity and morals

● Liberals are more individualistic and single-minded so they are not as cohesive ● System justification

○ Conservatives are justifying the status quo

○ Liberals are more tolerant of ambiguity

■ This is more psychologically discomforting Don't forget about the age old question of What are the efferent pathways of the autonomic nervous system?

Foolish optimism? 

● Optimistic bias

○ It is healthy = optimism

○ Mild depression show more realism

○ Severe depression show pessimism

● It can be bad because you can be unaware of the incompetence; they lack self-insight. ○ “People think they are better than they actually are”

● You can choose when and when not to choose to use optimism

○ Make sure you have a plan B when being optimistic *Penguin and parachute example*

○ Don’t let optimism negate unhappiness

■ Sometimes it is healthy to let yourself feel sad

● Culture

○ North America → oversimplify and overgeneralize

○ Asia → Normative unhappiness

● Draw on 3rd Party Perspectives

○ Others see you more objectively

○ People assume that we are without bounds and we are like superman. We admit physical limitations faster than cognitive limitations.

● People can decide to build optimism

Work and Play 

● Intrinsic Motivation

○ Inherent value in the activity

○ Pleasure, curiosity, challenge

○ Increases enthusiasm, effort, enjoyment, and success

● Extrinsic Motivation

○ Rewards and Incentives

■ Money and Fame

○ Punishments

■ Deadlines and Grades

○ Conditioning

■ Effort and performance dependent on the reward/incentive

■ Removing the reward decreases motivation

○ Overjustification effect

■ Too many motivating factors

● Contrast to behaviorism (increase rewards)

● If someone is doing something that they like and then a reward is added, if the reward is removed then they won’t find the same

pleasure that they did originally.

■ Two competing motivations are disruptive

● Self-enhancement vs. self-assessment goals

○ Purpose, Usefulness, Self-Determination (opposite of overjustification effect) ■ Purpose → Pursuing a larger goal

■ Usefulness→ Job must be done

■ Self-determination (more to come…)

● Motivation

○ Low SES (socioeconomic status) ex. Construing work

■ Helping others get healthy, making social connections

■ Ex) Taxi drivers talk about the social part

■ Ex) Janitor..helping people get healthy/get education

○ Happiness Exercise**Construe extrinsic tasks in terms of something personally meaningful

■ Cleaning the house? Make it a game!

■ Grocery shopping? You’re autonomous!

■ Physical therapy? On the path to fitness!

■ Take extrinsic things and switch them to intrinsic to add meaning ○ Self-Determination

■ Causal agency; Empowerment

■ Control over behavior through resolve/effort not external forces.

■ Very important for well-being

● Psychological “food”

● Increases happiness and health

■ Competence: self-efficacy

■ Autonomy: free from unwanted control

● Identity; Uniqueness

■ Relatedness: social ties/relationships

● Need to belong

● Locus of Control

○ Elderly folks in nursing homes

■ Control over schedule and taking care of plants

○ Effects on mental and physical health

■ Better mood and sociability

■ Better health and activity

■ Lower mortality rate

○ Lottery Ticket recipients

■ Chosen for them, or self-choice

■ Values more with self-choice

**Attitude Matters**

● Love and Work

○ Competing needs?

○ Secure, intimate relationships

■ Job/career satisfaction, fulfillment

■ Less negative spillover

■ Less fear of failure

○ **Relationship needs boost autonomy

■ There is more encouragement, support, and confidence

■ Dependence Paradox

■ Label: Secure/Autonomous

■ More dependent you are in a relationship then the more independent you actually are

● Leisure and Recreation

○ Most describe work (job), some say interests/pastimes

○ Nearly everyone does something during leisure time. Humans keep busy! ○ Extreme variety in leisure activities

○ Amount of time varies greatly

■ Women have less leisure time than men.

■ No time differences based on SES

■ Low SES people have fewer leisure activities

● Less money to spend

○ Strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction

○ Much less time now than in the past

■ Side hustles…?

● Competence (efficacy)

○ Contrast to behaviorism (Rewards)

● Feelings of vitality → Happiness

● Social Connectivity & Companionship

● Leisure World- Culture of activities

● Identity development

○ Skills and interests become emotional

○ Liking what you do → liking who you are

**Leisure activities are important for health because Competence. Relatedness. Cultural. Community. Self-esteem. Vitality. Mental health. Social connectivity. Self efficacy.

*Why do people love somethings more than others?

● Novelty

● Complexity

● Uncertainty


● Etymology-patior, to suffer and endure (related to the word patience) ● Western vs. Eastern cultural differences:

○ Noble pursuit of goals, esp. Work, hobbies, and sex

○ Roots of suffering

○ In America, 85% of adults identify at least 1 passionate activity-most are recreational

■ Spend 8-9 hours/week on passionate pursuits

○ Harmonious vs. Obsessive Passion

■ Harmonious -- no strings attached to a goal.

■ Obsessive--dependent on activity for your own sense of fulfillment and happiness

■ Harmonious is more linked with SWB

■ Can co-occur and both contribute to self-image

○ The “Rocky Effect”

■ Failure of information central to self-concept

● High Obsessive Passion → better subsequent performance

■ Exemplars of passion *Kobe Bryant example*

● Flow

○ Vital engagement

■ Total immersion; being “in the zone”

■ Effortless movement, focus, attention

■ Esp. with sports, art, music, dancing

■ Intrinsically motivated

○ Necessary conditions

■ Perceived challenges, opportunities for action

■ Clear (proximal) goals + immediate feedback

■ Better for short term goals

■ Operating at full capacity

○ More flow→ More mastery → more complexity needed for flow

■ Psychological growth

○ Contrast to equilibrium theory, in which balance and homeostasis is the goal ■ Very Freudian, but it’s not accurate

■ We want growth, change, and novelty. We want challenge.

● Who experiences flow?

○ Autotelic personality

■ Mostly theoretical

■ More creativity, persistence, intrinsic interests

■ Lower self-centeredness

○ Because school work is coercive, it rarely induces flow

■ Flow → future studies, better than grades or exam performance

○ Montessori Schools

■ Choice; pace; relevance; mixed-age groups

■ Teachers rarely interrupt students when concentrating

■ Montessori students have more flow

○ Very young kids are very motivated to learn

■ Academic interest declines in middle school

○ The culprit? School structures!

■ Limited (forced) course options, competitive grades, dysfunctional pedagogical practices

Happiness and Work 

● Only 20% of Americans say they get to do what they do best everyday ● A job you love= job that you are regularly doing what you do best (a “calling”) ● Companies with people doing their best:

○ Better off financially (bottom line)

○ Lower absenteeism and turnover

○ Higher morale and loyalty

● The Peter Principle

○ Job performance declines after promotion

○ People get stuck

○ People who do well are selected to move up until they can’t move up because they aren’t qualified or don’t do well at it

○ Organizations are staffed by people promoted to their level of incompetence ● Screening tests based on interests

○ Ex) MMPI, SVI (“cookbook approach”)

■ If you enjoy x you will enjoy y

○ But, these don’t take into account abilities/skills

■ Ex) interested in applied psychology but lack empathy and patience to deal with patient’s problems.

○ Based on existing demographic norms

■ Ex) Men and science

○ These jobs can change!

● Intelligence

○ General intelligence - g

○ Specific intelligences - tasks

○ A set of problem solving skills that allows the individual to resolve difficulties that they encounter

■ It is not static and can change

○ Standardized or in context?

■ Assessments obtained from everyday activities

○ Be skeptical of things like Myers-Briggs test

■ There is no data or evidence

● Keep track of your preferred leisure activities

○ Are there underlying themes?

○ Example : If you watch films, what stories/characters are most memorable? ○ How would you use these interests at work or school in a new way, to increase happiness?

Morality, Religion, and Spirituality 

● Religious people are happier than secular people

● Terror Management Theory (TMT)

○ Mortality salience → anxiety/distress

○ More belief in supernatural agents, afterlife, mind-body distinctions

● Mortality salience → Worldview defense (polarization effect on a survey) ○ Religious and secular people

○ Explicit (survey) vs. implicit (IAT) scores (people shift more towards religiosity) ○ IAT = implicit association test → punch keys as fast as you can to show implicit biases

○ “No atheists in foxholes” → maybe a little bit of truth to this

○ Supernatural ~~ real >> Supernatural ~~ imaginary

● Religion and coping

○ Universality of suffering and harm

○ Even to innocent people

○ Divine purpose is orderly

○ Belief in a just world

○ Gives people comfort in times of hardship

○ Randomness is unsettling

● When things go wrong

○ In-group social support

○ God as parental figure

■ “Personal relationship” with God

■ Proximity-seeking under stress

○ Compensator control; SDT (self-determination theory)

■ External attributions

■ Meaning-making

○ Increased happiness and well-being. Longevity

● Moralizing normative behavior

○ Ex) sex, eating, work

○ Religious people have less adultery

○ Self-control/willpower

■ Experimental religious primes

○ In stricter cultures there are lower suicide rates

○ If people think they are being watched their behavior is more pro-social ○ Atheists are more discriminated against than any other religious group ■ They are less trusted, they are perceived as more threatening ● Religion “binds” people

○ Autonomy vs. community morals

■ Homo duplex “two-level man.”

● Humans are 90% chips and 10% bees

● Care about moral fabric of our groups

○ Cultural evolution

■ Strong moral norms → competitive advantage over other groups ● Atheists and secular people have “religious” experiences

○ Unity with humankind, universe

○ Transcendence of time, space

■ Esp. with psychedelic drugs

● Affect: elevation; awe

● Behavior: rituals; superstition (athletes); “holy” ground

● Cognition: karma, sacralized ideals; “sell your soul”

● Groupishness (BIG R vs. little ‘r’ religion)

○ Group-level morality

■ Politics, sports, nations

○ Collective effervescence

■ Synchronized movements & chants

■ Example: soccer is a religion

■ Example: Jediism>Buddhism

● Moral Foundations Theory

○ Individual foundations

■ Care (versus harm)

■ fairness/justice (versus inequality)

○ Binding Foundations

■ In-group loyalty (patriotism, allegiance)

■ authority/respect (parents, police, institutions)

■ purity/sanctity (sex, food, spirituality)

■ Liberty (vs. oppression)

● Binding foundations

○ More cooperation and altruism in-group

○ But also prejudice, violence, oppression?

○ Conservatives → stability

○ Liberals → change

○ Humans rally around sacred things

○ Build frameworks that promote posif

○ tive aspects (altruism, happiness) without dark side (prejudice, violence) ■ Religious and secular

■ 10 commandments and honor pledges


● Married people are happier

○ Stability and support

○ Health benefits

○ Self-expansion

● Social support benefits

○ Large social network and lower mortality risk

○ Happiness and life satisfaction and sociality

○ Lower social ties as dangerous for health as smoking and high blood pressure ● Couple-friendships

○ Closeness between couples fosters closeness within couples

○ Self-expansion and IOS

● Stereotype: Men = independent; Women = interdependent?

○ Reality: Men more collectively focused; women are more dyadically focused ■ Men: “side by side:” shared activities, groups

■ Women: “face to face’” emotional disclosure, friend pairing

● Men want cuddles, women want sex

○ Women are more likely to habituate to sex, get bored, more easily than men ● Bromance

○ Homosociality

■ The (non-sexual/non-romantic) love and affection shared by straight males.

■ Norms are changing

○ Equivalent effects of marital status on men's’/women’s happiness.

○ Gender gap will shrink

○ Less of a reliance on one person (spouse/partner) for emotional and physical intimacy

● Does love make us happy?

○ Most people would say yes

■ Function of cultural attitude towards love

■ We romanticize love (western culture)

○ Love can make you high

● Ecology of love

○ Selective attraction (focused attention, heightened energy)

○ In humans, selective attraction = love

○ Motivation; goal-oriented courtship behaviors

● What is falling in love?

○ Intense physiological arousal

■ Heart rate, energy

○ Abrupt changes in motivational states

■ Appetite, sleeping, etc.

○ Decreased attention to school/work

○ Obsessive thoughts

○ Elevated dopamine and norepinephrine;

■ Decreased activity in serotonin system

○ Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) and Caudate nucleus → both responsible for dopamine production

○ Same activation found across eastern and western cultures, supporting “universal” experience of love

● Is falling in love a good thing

○ Yes, higher self-efficacy and self-esteem for people in our culture

○ Marriage longevity/success:

■ Couples who divorce less “in love” as newlyweds

■ Couples still married: feeling deeply “in love” correlates with happiness. ○ Not necessarily…

■ Intense behavioral change

■ Physical and psychological disturbances

■ Love rejection → depression, suicides, homicides

■ Can be disruptive of other relationships

● Love over time

○ Passionate love fades over time

○ Why?

■ Arousal fades

■ Dopamine resets -- can’t be “high” forever

■ Mystery and fantasy fade with time

■ People adapt

○ 10% maintain long-term passionate love in old age!

■ But it’s a different experience

● Passionate vs. Companionate love

○ Love begins with passion, then it cools to the quiet glow of companionship ○ Intimacy ~ closeness

● Themes of Intimacy

○ Positive affect variety

■ Happiness, surprise, joy tenderness

○ Surrender of control

■ Behavior not directed/controlled

■ “Free flowing”

■ “Lost” in the moment

● Falling in love

○ Self-expansion: increase in self-schema, incorporate partner

○ “Who are you today?

■ Over 10 weeks

○ When people’s relationships end→ people diminish self-concepts and they shrink their worth.

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