Thursday, February 10, 2011

Patriotism Makes for Happier People

Captain America:  happy man, or happiest man?
(Probably not, except if he's poor.)
Portrait by Alex Ross. From Fox News.
Today LiveScience reports on a new 128-country study that shows the more patriotic a population is, the happier they feel in general. This especially applies to poor and non-Western nations. The survey, conducted by Gallup, asked people about their income, job satisfaction, and opinions about their country.

This month's Psychological Science journal published the analysis of the data by Mike Morrison and Ed Diener.  As Morrison says, "You can hear politicians in any country declare, 'We live in the best country in the world!' and people cheer." The researchers hypothesize that people with low income find patriotism to be consoling in rough times, while wealthier and Western respondents attribute their happiness to the individual factors of health, job satisfaction, and standard of living.

The study implies that societal characteristics may influence happiness more than people realize. Ed Diener says, "What is more, societal characteristics become even more important to happiness when one's life is not going well. This might explain why nationalism, the loyalty of sports fans, and religiosity can be very strong in the toughest of times."

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