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The topic of happiness is used to judge a person’s overall well-being in their life. Many studies have been conducted to show the association between a person’s well-being and socializing and to also show how spending time with other people affects people and the connection between social relationships and well-being.
Before diving into the studies between the association of well-being and socialization, let’s begin by defining subjective well-being. Well-being can be divided into 3 different categories with the first category stating happiness is being defined as a virtue (Diener, 1984). Being a virtuous person means that a person behaves in a way that has high moral standards and their behavior should reflect them acting in a good and true way. Second, social researchers have concentrated on the idea of what leads individuals to assess their lives in positive terms. This meaning of well-being has come to be named life fulfillment and satisfaction which depends on the norms of the respondent to figure out what a well-fulfilled life is (Diener, 1984). A person’s quality of life is a good factor in determining a person’s well-being. The third definition of well-being is that at the end of the day, does positive affect outweigh negative affect in a person’s life? (Diener, 1984). People examine themselves to determine well-being by determining if they are expressing an enjoyable emotional experience. Social relationships go from friends to best friends and significant others. With seeing the definitions of these two variables, it is easy to conclude that these ideas are very likely to be interconnected.
Relationship quality plays an important role in a person’s overall well-being. Studies have tested the association between happiness in social relationships where social relationships are best friends, first closest friends, second closest friends, and significant others. In this study, they expressed social relationships are a valuable source for well-being and happiness (Demir, Özdemir, & Weitekamp, 2007). The results of this study concluded that the only notable predictor of well-being was the best friend relationship, and they also felt happier when the quality of the first best friendship was as high and in line with the best friendship (Demir, Özdemir, & Weitekamp, 2007). With this in mind, the quality of the relationship will be an important factor when predicting an individual’s happiness. Another study took a multidimensional approach and included friendship quality as a predictor for overall well-being in adolescents in prosocial behavior (Son & Walker, 2019). The quality of a relationship has been connected to life fulfillment and satisfaction which was eventually known to also increase happiness within individuals. (Son & Walker, 2019). Friendships are mutually beneficial and there is an interchange between intimacy in every friendship and relationship, which helps, later on, to potentially increase happiness and contentment in life.
The quality of a significant other is also related to an individual’s well-being and happiness in life. Love is one of the most powerful types of friendship. The association between love and well-being has been discussed in countless studies. Ed Diener believes that love is appraised to be one of the most significant variables in an individual’s subjective well-being and an individual’s love life is a huge indicator of life’s overall fulfillment (Diener, 1984). This study continues to believe that adoration was the most meaningful asset for happiness (Diener, 1984). When a person is in love, they are happy, which is why one may conclude that there is an association between a person’s significant other and their well-being and happiness. The stronger the quality of the relationship, the stronger the overall happiness within an individual, which is why love is said to be the strongest indicator of a person’s happiness.
Life satisfaction and an individual’s overall well-being go hand in hand in people’s everyday lives. The more satisfied a person is with their life, the more likely for them to be happier in life as well. This study wanted to know how they could make life satisfaction better in society within a year. The study does this by having half of the respondents with active social instructions and the other half to be more isolated socially (Rohrer, Richter, Brümmer, Wagner, & Schmukle, 2018). In the study they conducted, they concluded that life satisfaction was not improved by just luck or external situations, however, life fulfillment improved with the individuals who invested more energy and time with loved ones and this impact completely increased the social presence of the individuals (Rohrer, Richter, Brümmer, Wagner, & Schmukle, 2018). It should be noted that the group who was told to be nonsocial for the year of the study had side effects from the non-social environment such as increasingly more loneliness, which then connects to lower life satisfaction (Rohrer, Richter, Brümmer, Wagner, & Schmukle, 2018).
Another study investigates the Authentic Happiness Theory by Martin Seligman in 2002 (Gander, Proyer, & Ruch, 2017). This theory explains three meanings of life that help guide a person to happiness: having a life of pleasure/positive emotions, meaning and engagement (Gander, Proyer, & Ruch, 2017). Seligman proposed an update to his theory in 2011. He believes that well-being should be a multidimensional build instead of a unidimensional as in the appraisal of life satisfaction and Seligman also adds positive relationships and accomplishments to the theory (Gander, Proyer, & Ruch, 2017). Seligman believed that the five components that made up his theory: pleasure/positive emotions, engagement, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishments all contribute to a person’s well-being and eventually overall life satisfaction (Gander, Proyer, & Ruch, 2017).
This idea of life satisfaction coming from a person’s well-being is highly supported in multiple studies. For instance, in 1976, Andrews and Withey discovered three dimensions to well-being, the decisions and the judgments of life satisfaction, positive affect and negative affect (Diener, 1984). With life satisfaction, this is just a personal evaluation of a person’s life and how fulfilled they are (Diener, 1984). This study explains that life satisfaction is very correlated with family life (Diener, 1984). This ties in the idea that the higher the quality of a relationship, the higher the overall satisfaction of life.
Physical and Mental Health
Being socially isolated means that a person has few to non-friends in life, they steer clear of any kind of relationship usually, and there is a lack of connection between the individual and the rest of society. Social relationships relate to an overall person’s well-being, so the absence of friendship will also affect a person’s well-being as well. This study expresses that there is a connection between social isolation and loneliness (Ge, Yap, Ong, & Heng, 2017). Not only is there a relationship between those two variables but there is a connection between loneliness and depressive symptoms even when gender, age, and other variables were controlled (Ge, Yap, Ong, & Heng, 2017). It shows that friendship networks fight depressive symptoms. Socialization is an essential aspect of a person’s overall well-being and it can majorly impact a person’s mental health. Some studies show that a person’s physical health will be affected by social isolation. For example, this study indicated that when an individual has socially isolated themselves, the probability of early mortality is elevated (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Baker, Harris, & Stephenson, 2015). Over three million participants were studied and followed for seven years, and what was concluded was that loneliness increased death by 26%, social isolation increased mortality by 29% and the factor of living alone increases the probability of death by 32% (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Baker, Harris, & Stephenson, 2015). Having an active social life and being connected to society improves emotional health and it also has a huge positive effect on physical health (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Baker, Harris, & Stephenson, 2015). There has been a correlation between well-being and mental health and having friendships (Son & Walker, 2019). The better the quality of the relationship between the friends, the more likely the individual is happier and vice versa. This goes to show that the more of absence or poor quality of the friendships, the more likely the individual will have psychological problems (Son & Walker, 2019). When an individual is socially isolated, they are more likely to be susceptible to health issues and shorter life spans. When dealing with stress, people turn to friends in times of need instead of strangers. People rely on social support when they are stressed. This is why there is a strong correlation between well-being and relationships. This study indicates that when looking at friends versus strangers and who provides more social support in a stressful time in an individual’s life, the friends provide more support than the strangers (Winstead, Derlega, Lewis, Sanchez-Hucles, & Clarke, 1992). This helps tie in the idea that the quality of a relationship is important when dealing with stress and overall well-being.
In my class, I am conducting a research study similar to the ones listed above. I will be testing whether college students that attend Southern Methodist University experience greater positive affect while alone, with their friends or (possibly) with their romantic partners. From knowing all of these studies stated above, my hypothesis is highly supported because there is a high association between social relationships and overall well-being. My hypothesis states that I believe that the group of people who are with friends will have a greater positive affect score than the group who is alone. I also hypothesize that the group of people who are alone will have the lowest positive affect score. I hypothesize that people’s well-being and happiness increases when they are surrounded by friends and loved ones rather than just being alone. Our study fits into existing research literature because we are looking at social relationships and being alone and whether individuals have a more positive affect in each of those. My study might help add to the knowledge of the overall topic by just looking at current college students. College students experience life differently from the rest of the world. There is potentially more stress when people are in college with due dates and social stigmas that might have an effect on a person’s overall happiness in their life. It could be different from regular young adults who aren’t currently in college. My study will hopefully help fill in those gaps to see if there is a difference in happiness and well-being between college students and non-collegiate young adults.
- Demir, M., Özdemir, M., & Weitekamp, L. A. (2007). Looking to happy tomorrows with friends: Best and close friendships as they predict happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Subjective Well-Being, 8(2), 243–271. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-006-9025-2
- Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 542-575. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.95.3.542
- Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2017). The subjective assessment of accomplishment and positive relationships: Initial validation and correlative and experimental evidence for their association with well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Subjective Well-Being, 18(3), 743–764. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9751-z
- Ge, L., Yap, C. W., Ong, R., & Heng, B. H. (2017). Social isolation, loneliness and their relationships with depressive symptoms: A population-based study. PLoS ONE, 12(8). Retrieved from http://proxy.libraries.smu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost. com/login.aspx?direct=true &db=psyh&AN=2018-18675-001&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227–237. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691614568352
- Rohrer, J. M., Richter, D., Brümmer, M., Wagner, G. G., & Schmukle, S. C. (2018). Successfully striving for happiness: Socially engaged pursuits predict increases in life satisfaction. Psychological Science, 29(8), 1291–1298. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618761660
- Son, D., & Padilla-Walker, L. M. (2019). Happy helpers: A multidimensional and mixed-method approach to prosocial behavior and its effects on friendship quality, mental health, and well-being during adolescence. Journal of Happiness Studies: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Subjective Well-Being. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00154-2
- Winstead, B. A., Derlega, V. J., Lewis, R. J., Sanchez-Hucles, J., & Clarke, E. (1992). Friendship, social interaction, and coping with stress. Communication Research, 19(2), 193–211. https://doi.org/10.1177/009365092019002004
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