In 2006 I completed a research thesis on happiness for my B Psychology (Honours). It’s currently being prepared for submission to a peer-reviewed journal and once published, I’ll make it available here.

Meanwhile, here’s a summary of the research findings:

Don’t Worry Be Happy:
The Moderating Effect of Happiness-Eliciting Behaviours for Neurotic and Introverted People

Research by Michele Connolly under the supervision of Dr Lorna Peters at Macquarie University, Australia (Tel: +612 9850 7111).

The many and varied benefits of happiness, the current lack of theory and research about happy people, and the protective and healing health powers of well-being, all make the study of happiness an important task. A recent model of happiness has focused on the roles played by circumstances, personality, and intentional behaviours in determining what makes people happy. Concerning personality, being neurotic and being introverted both seem to correlate with feeling less happy in general, but the findings contain contradictions. What else might affect the association between personality and happiness?

In this study a questionnaire set measuring happiness, personality, and HQ (happiness-eliciting behaviours and habits, like being kind to others or anticipating good things to come) was completed online by 204 respondents – 109 psychology students and 95 volunteers.

The results go some way toward adding to the body of knowledge about happiness. First, it was found that HQ is a potentially important variable in people’s happiness. People who use HQ-type behaviours to a higher degree also tend to be happier, on average, than people who do not use HQ-type behaviours much. The study also found that these intentional behaviours and habits moderate the well-established happiness-personality association. That is, HQ behaviours can ‘compensate’ for neurotic and introverted personality traits in promoting happiness. It may even turn out that the long-held happiness-personality link has more to do with what people believe about happiness than with how people are born.

The results suggest that engaging in HQ-type behaviours may allow neurotic and introverted people to be just about as happy as stable and extraverted people. Surely this is good news for neurotic and introverted people: At last, they can not worry, and be happy.