caseAgainstHappiness

caseAgainstHappiness -...

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Unformatted text preview: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/20/magazine/20WWLN.html? pagewanted=print&position= June 20, 2004 THE WAY WE LIVE NOW Against Happiness By JIM HOLT ad people are nice. Angry people are nasty. And, oddly enough, happy people tend to be nasty, too. Such (allowing for a little journalistic caricature) were the Fndings reported in last month's issue of Psychological Science. Researchers found that angry people are more likely to make negative evaluations when judging members of other social groups. That, perhaps, will not come as a great surprise. But the same seems to be true of happy people, the researchers noted. The happier your mood, the more liable you are to make bigoted judgments -- like deciding that someone is guilty of a crime simply because he's a member of a minority group. Why? Nobody's sure. One interesting hypothesis, though, is that happy people have an ''everything is Fne'' attitude that reduces the motivation for analytical thought. So they fall back on stereotypes -- including malicious ones. The news that a little evil lurks inside happiness is disquieting. After all, we live in a nation whose founding document holds the pursuit of happiness to be a God-given right. True to that principle, the United States consistently ranks near the top in international surveys of happiness. In a 1994 survey of 41 countries, only the supposedly dour Swedes surpassed us in ''positive affect.'' (Elaborate scales have been invented to measure individual happiness, but researchers admit that difFculties remain; for example, a person is more likely to express satisfaction with his...
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