Holli-Anne Passmore a PhD candidate in psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus Photo:contributed

UBC study focuses on reducing the fear of being too happy

The study proves people are able to control their own happiness

A UBC researcher has helped establish that, even for people who have a fear of happiness, brief, positive psychology interventions embedded within university courses can enhance well-being.

Holli-Anne Passmore, a PhD candidate in psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, does research on well-being and personal happiness. There are conflicting views on the value of happiness, and a person’s culture or religion can significantly affect how personal happiness is understood.

Related:UBC researchers uncover new ways to reduce opioid abuse

Collaborating with international colleagues, Passmore recently examined the effects of a positive psychology intervention (PPI) study at the culturally diverse Canadian University of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. More than 270 students, from 39 different countries, participated in the study and 78 per cent of them were Muslim. For half of the students, the Happiness 101 program was added to the regular curriculum of an Introduction to Psychology course.

Related: Fitzpatricks donate $1.25 million to UBC Okanagan

“Fear of happiness is a real thing. Others worry about the fragility of happiness,” Passmore said. “In some cultures, a person may not want to be too happy or believe that if they outwardly strive for happiness, they may tempt fate or create social disharmony. They may also believe that any happiness enjoyed will only be fleeting. Valuing happiness is not universally shared.”

“There are a lot of students who live with the underlying sentiment that happiness is beyond their control,” said Passmore. “They truly believe happiness is mainly controlled by specific events, or a religious deity or a being, or other circumstances.”

Related: Student whose throat was slashed in UBC dormitory alleges negligence in lawsuit

Passmore says participants learned to use positive psychology interventions—analytically validated and focused activities designed to increase the frequency of positive emotions and experiences. PPIs can help with anxiety, depression, somatic complaints, optimism, relationships, hopelessness, and the ability to deal with stress and trauma.

The researchers measured different aspects of the students’ well-being at the beginning and end of the semester, and three months later. Compared to students who were not exposed to the positive psychology interventions, students who had the PPI program added to the usual course content reported higher levels of well-being at the end of the semester. Additionally, says Passmore, fear of happiness decreased and the belief that happiness is fragile was also reduced. The boost in well-being and the decreases in beliefs regarding fear and fragility of happiness were still evident three months after the course.

“It’s important to validate the effectiveness of PPIs cross-culturally,” Passmore said. “This is the first study that we’re aware of, which shows you can manipulate beliefs in the fear and fragility of happiness. While no difference in religiosity was evident between the two groups at post-intervention, our participants came to the understanding that they do have some control over their own happiness.”

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cow Moose Sign founder wants LEH for antlerless moose hunt in B.C. stopped

“Shooting a cow moose — it’s just not the right thing to do, especially in this region”

Cost-free adult crafting classes come to the South Cariboo this September

‘What I want to promote is a group having fun, something to come to that doesn’t cost them’

What was your favourite part of the Summer Reading Club at the library?

Pawan Nijjar 100 Mile House “The crafts and the prizes we got… Continue reading

Creating intuitive art with a spiritual message: Cindy Faulkner prepares for Studio 2 Studio

‘The feel of clay in my fingernails is just a really great feeling’

Tourism is making a comeback in the South Cariboo

Tourism has made a comeback in the South Cariboo. “The season has… Continue reading

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Most Read