People are, on average, in a mildly good mood most of the time all around the world, a new study finds.
Researchers have reviewed evidence drawn from many different nations — rich and poor, stable and unstable.
As long as people have not just experienced a strong emotional event, even those in poor circumstances are likely to be in a mild positive mood.
The study’s authors write:
“According to our hypothesis, humans have been evolutionarily selected to have a positive mood offset, and the higher-than-neutral level of happiness is genetically transmitted from parents to children, while chronic depression and lack of positive affect have been selected out.
People are happy most of the time because they are descended from ancestors who were happier and engaged in fitness-maximizing behavior more frequently than their neighbors who were less happy.
Current good and bad events can move people temporarily away from their baseline levels, but people will return toward that level over time.
Long-term bad and good circumstances can move the baseline up or down, but only within a range.”
The reason being mildly happy is beneficial to our future?
Being happy makes you more likely to plan for the future, be creative, be social and, crucially, to mate.
The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review (Diener et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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