Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Social Psychology and Happiness

Ah, Social Psychology. What can I say? Social Psychology spans a wide range of topics. Social Psychologists are constantly studying human behavior in relation to different environments.  Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky and Dr. Nadia Ahmad are two psychologists who have done research in different areas of interest. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky has done research in the area of human happiness (makes me think of the extremely popular song Happy, by Pharrell). Dr. Nadia Ahmad has focused on empathy in the healthcare and caregiver field.
Dr. Lyubomirsky has focused on human happiness, and some of her main questions are 1. “What makes people happy?” And what makes some happier than others?  2. “Is happiness a good thing?” And 3. “How can people learn to live happier lives?”
Dr. Ahmad has studied how empathy plays a part in the way that parents care for their children, and the way that medical doctors care for their patients. She also focuses on empathetic processes and how it affects individuals socially.
Human happiness is something that people have strived towards for centuries. Some individuals may look for happiness in things such as money, cars, clothes, religion, food, hobbies, and almost anything else one could imagine. However, the question remains why while some people crumble and are unhappy in their lives; others rise above it all and can be happy even in hard times.
Basically, Dr. Lyubomirsky found through research that truly happy individuals interpret life events and daily situations in ways that help to sustain their happiness, while unhappy persons interpret life experiences in ways that seem to reinforce unhappiness. Dr. Lubomirsky’s research has exhibited that happy people experience and react to events and circumstances in significantly more positive and more adaptive ways. Unhappy people are more likely to think about negative experiences(Lyumbomirsky, 2011).
Happiness is a wonderful, important state, because happy individuals are more likely to have higher income, more satisfying social lives and relationships with other people. Happy people tend to have better health and have more energy. Dr. Lyumbomirsky has also found that happy people tend to be more creative and have better work performance than unhappy people.(Ahmad, 2011) With these findings, it is easy to see why happiness is important and how beneficial it is to the human mind and body.
Empathy is extremely important, especially in the healthcare field and for parents (Ahmad, 2011).  A new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that small displays of empathy by a medical provider can aid in improve medical care of patients. Researchers found that clinical empathy enhances patient satisfaction with care, motivates individuals to adhere to treatment plans and lowers malpractice complaints. (Nauert, 2011) This is no surprise because all medical care patients want to feel like they are being understood and helped as human beings and not ‘just a number’. Parents have a similar reason to be empathetic toward their children, and the empathy that parents show gives children a sense of emotional support that all human beings need.
Human happiness is important and will forever be a trait that people strive for. Unhappiness creates problems and happiness helps people through those problems. Empathy is important in healthcare and parenting; and both empathy and happiness are essential to life.  

Ahmad, N. (2011, 09 23). Nadia ahmad. Retrieved from http://nadia.ahmad.socialpsychology.org/
Nauert, R. (2011, January 25). Caregiver empathy improves outcomes. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/01/25/caregiver-empathy-improves-outcomes/22887.html
Lyumbomirsky, S. (2012, March 13). Sonja lyumbomirsky. Retrieved from http://lyubomirsky.socialpsychology.org/

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