Psychology & Marketing


Volume34, Issue6 June 2017 Pages 623-630

Maria Sääksjärvi, Katarina Hellén, Pieter Desmet



It is commonly known in the positive psychology literature that people who want to increase their happiness ought to engage in so‐called happiness‐enhancing activities. Building on this stream of research, work that emphasizes the duality of happiness (affect vs. meaning) is introduced in order to propose a new conceptualization of happiness activities. The new conceptualization distinguishes between self‐ and other‐focused happiness activities, and argues for the importance of other‐focused activities over self‐focused ones. Results from a six‐week long study show that other‐focused happiness activities consistently outperformed self‐focused ones in terms of raising participants’ levels of happiness. Although self‐focused happiness activities also increased happiness, by showing increases over time relative to participants’ baseline level, other‐focused happiness activities consistently outperformed such increases.