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Letter From Birmingham Jail

            Why Are Some People Happier Than Others?.
             Happiness is the whole aim and end of human existence, but why, then, are some people happier than others? To understand this question, you must first understand the cognitive and motivational processes that serve to maintain, and even enhance, continuing happiness. The author of this article explores the relevant psychological processes, such as social comparison, dissonance reduction, self-reflection, self-evaluation, and person perception, in chronically happy and unhappy individuals. In this essay, I will summarize the purpose and content of the article. .
             First, the author evaluates the impact of social comparison in relation to happiness. Social comparison is an active, dynamic, and flexible process, which may be used in the service of boosting or diminishing one's mood and self-regard. She states that in several studies, it has been shown that self-related happy individuals appear to be less sensitive to social comparison information- especially unfavorable information- than unhappy individuals. In two different studies, they found that happy individuals were relatively less influenced by the superior performance of a peer. The first study had students solve anagrams in the presence of a colleague who executed the task at a much slower or faster pace. In the second experiment, students received positive or negative feedback on a novel teaching task, and then listened to a peer receive even more positive or negative feedback than they did. A surprising outcome was that unhappy students said they felt happier after receiving a poor evaluation than when they had received an excellent one. The author's research implies "that happy individuals appear to be more inclined than unhappy ones to use social comparison information sparingly and to use it selectively to protect their well-being and self-esteem" (Lyubomirsky and Tucker, 2000). On the other hand, "unhappy students appeared to monitor information about peer performance carefully and conscientiously, exerting effort to bolster their well-being and self-esteem actively pursuing favorable ways to compare themselves with others" (Lyubomirsky and Tucker, 2000).

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