Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Study Claims: Success of Near and Dears’ is the Source of Ultimate Happiness



Researchers at the University of Cambridge, England, found that both men and women believe a satisfied, settled family life is the source of ultimate happiness for them.  The Cambridge study was carried out by Professor Jacqueline Scott, Dr. Anke Plagnol and Dr. Jane Nolan and appears in a new book, Gender Inequalities In The 21st Century, published by Edward Elgar.

The study compiled the views of more than 10,000 people. Taken at face value, their responses appeared to confirm gender stereotypes, with more men for example mentioning "finance" in connection with their well-being and women more commonly referring to their families.

Closer analysis, however, revealed that many respondents were linking their own happiness with that of the people closest to them, but phrasing that link in gender-specific terms.

Men, for instance, often connected financial security with well-being because they still see themselves as "breadwinners". Similarly, women were more likely to mention the family itself, because they still perceive themselves as the principal carers of children or elderly relatives.

“The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest — schools, playgrounds, and public assitance, and private concern — will never be enough.”-
Lyndon Baines Johnson

The significance of others in determining well-being also appears to become more profound over time, as people take on new responsibilities, by entering into long-term relationships, or becoming parents or grandparents.

The researchers argue that this fundamental concern with our nearest and dearest cuts across the traditional gender divide and should be a key issue for policy-makers and employers when addressing the question of people's work-life balance.

"Men and women may view happiness differently, but when you dig deeper and look at the nature of their perceptions, you find that in both cases their well-being is bound up with that of others," Professor Jacqueline Scott, who led the study, said.

"In a sense it's obvious, but it's also been completely ignored. Most policy-making on happiness has focused on improving conditions for individuals. Our research suggests that more should be done to support the actions of both men and women in caring for others, because that will have benefits for everybody's quality of life."

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