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  • 1.
    Niemi, Markus
    University of Skövde, School of Bioscience.
    Neuroscientific perspective on the bidirectional relationship between life satisfaction and health: Are people happier because they are healthy, or are they healthier because they are happy?2018Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    Bentham’s 1832 Greatest Happiness Principle states that the greatest happiness for the greatest amount of people should be the goal of public policy. When people are asked what they wish for in life, health and happiness are consistently mentioned. This thesis examines the relationship between health and happiness. However, as happiness is difficult to consistently operationalize across different studies and scientific disciplines, life satisfaction is used as a proxy for happiness. This thesis studies the relationship between health and life satisfaction with a particular focus on the directionality of the relationship and the tentative processes indicated to be involved with this process. This study is accomplished through a literary review of the scientific literature related to life satisfaction, its neural correlates and their relationship with physical health. This study is modelled on the top-down, bottom-up and bidirectional debate within the larger Subjective Well-Being (SWB) literature. The results indicate that the correlation between life satisfaction and health appears to be robust, but the exact directionality and causality is unclear and difficult to establish with a literary review, with only predictive ability of life satisfaction on later physical health or vice versa established. Furthermore, the results appear to indicate that the central process linking this relationship is resilience - the ability to adaptively respond to stressors. Enhancing resiliency through psychological interventions may be a method to promote happiness and health in individuals as well as in society as a whole.

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