European Conference on Positive Psychology

  • Charlie Lea (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Happy thoughts: high life satisfaction and the use of the best supporting life domains

Oral presentation

Introduction. Diener, Lucas, Oishi, and Suh (2002) found that in a life satisfaction judgement happy participants placed more weight on their best domains while unhappy participants gave more weight to their worst domains. As this difference in information use has been given little empirical attention the present study aimed to utilise self-reported information use to provide further support for this important concept. It was predicted that highly satisfied participants would report using their most satisfying domains while those with low life satisfaction would use their least satisfying domains. Method. After each item of the SWLS (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985) participants (N = 201, Mean age = 32 years) reported in their own words the information they brought to mind while making a life satisfaction judgement. The satisfaction in 12 specific domains, whose presence was coded for in participants’ reports, was also measured. The sample was split according to SWLS score. Results. For participants with high SWL the mean satisfaction score was greater for the used domains than the not-used domains, suggesting that the most satisfactory domains were used. The opposite was true for those with low SWL. Discussion. Unlike participants with high SWL, those with low SWL appear to ignore their most satisfactory domains. This result demonstrates a cognitive bias in information use, supporting Diener et al.'s (2002) previous study. Such a cognitive bias suggests a route by which top-down traits interact with bottom-up information and also provides a potential cognitive mechanism for positive interventions.
Period2 Jul 2014
Event typeConference
LocationAmsterdam , NetherlandsShow on map


  • life satisfaction judgements
  • life domains
  • satisfaction with life
  • cognitive bias