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A Psychometric Analysis of Social Factors Affecting General Happiness

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Project Overview

The proposed research will use a theoretical model to test whether the four variables, Self-esteem (SE), Subjective Social Status (SSS), Faith (F) and Extraversion (E) are significant predictors of general happiness. The variables will be operationalized using questionnaires which can be seen in Figure 1. The questionnaires will be distributed for participants to fill in using social networking sites such as Facebook as well as through the email database system.

Figure 1: General Happiness Operational Model


The aim of the study is to look at 'social factors' that influence general happiness. Phillips (1969) found that positive feelings were directly correlated with social participation with negative feelings being generally unrelated to social participation. Ybarra et al (2008) supports this idea as they found that people who engaged in social interaction displayed higher levels of cognitive performance and it is possible that as people engage socially and mentally with others, they receive relatively immediate cognitive boosts. Therefore social participation can have an effect on well being as well as health and intelligence. The researchers of this study recognise that one of the foundation's aims is to spread happiness. With in investing in this project, The Chuckle's Foundation are ensuring that this aim is continued through realising that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance and health (Lyubomirsky, King & Diener, 2005).

Introduction: Background

The first predicting factor is self-esteem. Furnham & Cheng (2002) tested their research using regression and this showed that self-esteem to be the most dominant and powerful predictor of happiness. Research has also shown that those with high self-esteem are likely to find social interaction easier and more desirable (Abrams & Hogg, 2006). Lyubomirsky (2005) looked at the relationship between happiness and self-esteem, as well as other variables. The results found that self-esteem and happiness were strongly correlated, and other factors such as extraversion and social relationships were also strong predictors of happiness.

Extraversion refers to a personality trait which involves someone being generally enthusiastic and assertive. Extroverted people have more emotional support, implying that their increased sociability significantly increases their overall happiness (Sarason et al., 1983). Landa et al (2010) found that those high scores of extraversion were significantly related to psychological well being scales, suggesting that those people with higher levels of extraversion are significantly happier. Furnham and Brewin (1990) used a sample of over 100 participants and found a strong positive correlation between extraversion and happiness. Spangler and Palrecha (2003) also found a strong relationship between extraversion and happiness.

Subjective social status is how people perceive their own position in society, e.g. the most socially desirable people in society may be those with the best education, most respected job and the most money. Pinquart and Sorensen (2000) found that socioeconomic status was positively associated with subjective well-being which can be supported by Sewell, Haller & Straus (1957) who found that higher social status indicates higher life satisfaction. Further, Gerdtham and Johannesson (2002) results found that happiness increases with income, health and education.

The way that people with similar faiths form groups, and are therefore more sociable, is supported by Maltby and Day (2004), who found that people with faith have fewer mental issues, are more kind, friendly and sociable, and generally have a higher life satisfaction as a result. Stark and Mailer (2008), found a significant positive correlation between faith and happiness over a review of 24 years worth of 'general social surveys'

which shows that faith helps people recover former happiness that has been previously lost due to events such as divorce, bereavement, serious illness or unemployment.

Planned Method and Analysis


The study will investigate a cross-sectional questionnaire to test a happiness model.

The variables included are Self-esteem (SE), Subjective Social Status (SSS), Faith (F) and Extraversion (E). The four variables will be tested as predictors of general happiness. The online survey will be developed using Autoform (NTU online survey tool) and distributed through the email database system as well as social networking sites such as Facebook.


The study will consist of an opportunity sample of 100 participants of which the demographics will not be controlled and therefore a range of ages will be included. All participants will have the option to have their data taken out and this will be carried out through a unique identifier.


A series of questionnaires will be used including a section that will be designed by the researcher. The section designed by the researcher will ask questions about demographics and will include the consensual part of the study.

In Figure 1 it can be seen which scales will be used to operationalize the variables. The Rosenberg (1965) Self Esteem scale consists of 10 questions as does the NEO-PI-R Extraversion scale (Costa & McCrae, 1992) and the 45 AB5C Facets scale (The Abridged Big Five-Dimensional Cirumplex; Hofstee, De Raad & Goldberg, 1992). The Values in Action, Religion and Spirtuality scale (Peterson & Seligman, 2004) consists of 9 factors and the MacArthur SES ladder shows a picture of a ladder, and states to participants that those people on the top step of the ladder are those who are higher up in society, e.g. those with a better education, more money etc... Those on the bottom step are those lower down in society. According to the ladder participants are told to place themselves on a step between 1-10 depending on how they see themselves in society.

39 questions will be presented to the participants. Each question will use a 5-point Likert scale.

The research will be analyzed using a multiple regression, testing for VIF, Tolerance and Multicollinearity. Tests for validity and reliability will also be run.




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