Richard Layard stated that ‘Happiness comes from outside and within’. Explain this statement, drawing on evidence from Chapters 3 and 5 of the module.
To explain Layard‘s statement, I will begin by explaining what is meant by happiness and what the terms outside and within refer to. Then I will explore how each of these factors can influence a person’s happiness, specifically drawing on evidence originating from Chapters 3 (thoughts) and 5 (social identities) of the study text Starting with Psychology - Spoors et al. (2011).
As Layard’s statement suggests, the term happiness is not easily quantifiable. However, psychologists largely agree to define the term happiness as “a positive feeling covering a range of emotions from joy to contentment”, Spoors et al. (2011, p. 7). The term “outside” refers to the external and social influences on an individual, such as their relationships, social identity and the cultural environment they live in and how this can affect their level of happiness. The term “within” relates to the biological and cognitive influences on the individual, for example the chemical make up of their brain and their thoughts and feelings and how these can affect their level of happiness.
Social psychologists tend to favour the idea that happiness comes from outside influences on a person for example relationships, roles, culture and group membership. Spoors et al., (2011) suggest that the development of positive and supportive relationships in a person’s social role can contribute significantly to their happiness. This is because the role provides an opportunity to feel valued, can build self-esteem and nurture the sense of belonging. Roles position a person in society and provide some kind of meaning to life; influencing their expectations and their behaviours. Not fitting in with a role or roles as is expected can lead to disappointment and unhappiness.
Similarly, being a member of a group offers the security of other...
References: Spoors, P., Dyer, E., Finlay, L. and Marsh, G. (2011) Starting with Psychology, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
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