Aysu Koman & Ceyda Serra Yaşar |
Discussion about hedonia and eudaimonia has a long history that is older than baby boomers or other previous generations. They were first discussed by the philosophers in BC. Such long-lasting debates about the two concepts grabbed our attention. Positive psychology turned its attention to them in the 2000s. Since then the psychologists tries to come up with definitions and the differentiating aspects of the concepts. In our research, we want to understand their meanings and their significance in our lives.
Huta (2013) summarized the changing meanings of the concepts throughout the history. Eudaimonia first appeared in the discussions of Aristotle. His definition of eudaimonia included gaining virtue and flourishing through honesty, kindness, and intellectual activity. On the other hand, some philosophers believed that happiness can be gained by physical gratification and pleasure. Also, religions such as Christianity, Confucianism refer to eudaimonia to explain how to be a person by pointing virtue, delay of gratification, helping others. On the surface acts of eudaimonia benefit the people more than the simple pleasures that hedonia includes but modern psychology revealed contradictory findings. In modern psychology, each psychologist focused on their distinct conceptualizations. To give examples we would like to introduce some of the researchers chronologically. Ryff (1989) concluded that psychological wellbeing, autonomy, positive relations with others, and self-acceptance are related to eudemonic experiences whereas life satisfaction and low negative affect are related to hedonic experiences. Later years, Vittersø (2003) related eudaimonic acts with personal growth, openness to experience, and engagement while hedonic acts with feeling pleasure, easiness, and life satisfaction. Additionally, Vittersø et al. (2009) stated that eudaimonia is more stable than hedonia. It promotes growth and change in people’s lives. On the contrary, after experiencing hedonia a person returns back to their normal state. Peterson et al. (2005) concluded that the relationship between hedonia and eudaimonia is weak. Eudaimonia is associated with flow and engagement as hedonia is associated with life satisfaction, low negative affect, and high positive affect. Eudaimonia is superior in pleasure. In this research, we focused on the studies of Veronika Huta. According to Huta and Waterman (2016) both are good for our well-being. For example, if a person lives with hedonic acts, he/she would miss out on the opportunity of self-growth. If vice-versa happens, a person might crush under the stresses of life or have trouble with maintaining self-care. However, there is no distinct superiority between the two. The article stated that the two can be placed in a pyramid. Hedonia was perceived as a fundamental thing that would be placed on lower floors whereas eudaimonia located in higher levels flourishes growth so the two of them need each other to exist. A study that was conducted by Huta included wellbeing booster acts for the participants, which revealed that the positive impacts of hedonic acts touch our lives shortly after 10 days but they fade away soon. For eudaimonic acts, the positive impact gradually increases over the months and lasts longer (Huta&Ryan, 2010). Huta has been conducting researches about the distinguishing aspects of the two terms. HERMA-R scale that has been established by her shows the clear distinctions between hedonia and eudaimonia at which each concept falls onto separate statements and the relatedness are small (Huta, 2015).
In our research, the HERMA-R scale was used. However, what we did was not a replication of her research which was about the formation of the scale. In our research, we interviewed 15 Koç University students to think about their happiest memories and describe, give details about them. With the given details we scored the memories according to each statement on the scale. There were 10 statements which consisted of 5 eudaimonic and 5 hedonic expressions. When the memory didn’t include the influence of the concept, we gave the score of 0. When it did, we gave 1. By choosing this topic we aimed to show the functionalities and properties of the two concepts and create awareness. By conducting this research we aimed to investigate the life span of the concepts. As the previous research suggested we thought that we would find a high number of memories that are related to eudaimonia since it is long-lasting. Surprisingly we found the opposite of what we had predicted. The results indicated that the majority (7 people) had memories that are strongly hedonic whereas 6 people had influences of hedonia and eudaimonia equally. The remaining had mainly eudaimonic experiences in their memories. Our findings continued to show that eudaimonia and hedonia exist together like the previous researches. The reason why we find the memories that consisted of hedonia more would be because of the age of the participants. Experiences that relate to self-development and self-awareness may be faced more in later years of life when people achieve stability in their relationships, work, finance, etc. The most common theme that we have found was sociality. Most of the answers were contained activities that involved family or friends, this can show that socialization with loved ones should not be forgotten. During the rush of events in our busy schedules, we tend to postpone meetings with friends or try to hang up the phone as much as quickly while talking to a family member. In those times, we should slow down and take some time to communicate in a quality manner.
This is a limited study with very few participants. Huge samples would yield more reliable results. Also, another limitation of the study was the rating process. The participants could have rated their memories which would affect the rates of the concepts. They could have been more accurate. The reason why we didn’t do it that way was that the respondents might give biased ratings to appear appealing.
We hope the readers acknowledge both hedonia and eudaimonia in their lives. Dwelling on one of them might lower the well-being. Our results might be an example of how they go hand in hand with each other. Simply we would say that enjoy the moment while fostering your development.
Huta, V., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Pursuing pleasure or virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 735-762.
Huta, V. (2013). Eudaimonia. In S. David, I. Boniwell, & A.C. Ayers (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Happiness (chapter 15, pp. 201-213). Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Huta, V. (2015). The Complementary Roles of Eudaimonia and Hedonia and how they can be Pursued in Practice. In S. Joseph (Ed.), Positive Psychology in Practice: Promoting Human Flourishing in Work, Health, Education, and Everyday Life, Second Edition. Chapter 10. pp Wiley
Huta, V. (2016). Eudaimonic and hedonic orientations: Theoretical considerations and research findings. In J. Vittersø (Ed.), Handbook of Eudaimonic Well-being. Springer. Manuscript accepted for publication January 27, 2016
Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 25–41.
Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081
Vittersø, J. (2003). Flow versus life satisfaction: A projective use of cartoons to illustrate the difference between the evaluation approach and the intrinsic motivation approach to subjective quality of life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 4, 141–167.
Vittersø, J., Oelmann, H. I., & Wang, A. L. (2009). Life satisfaction is not a balanced estimator of the good life: evidence from reaction-time measures and self-reported emotions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 1–17.