JOURNAL ARTICLE

What makes a life good?

L A King, C K Napa
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1998, 75 (1): 156-65
9686456
Two studies examined folk concepts of the good life. Samples of college students (N = 104) and community adults (N = 264) were shown a career survey ostensibly completed by a person rating his or her occupation. After reading the survey, participants judged the desirability and moral goodness of the respondent's life, as a function of the amount of happiness, meaning in life, and wealth experienced. Results revealed significant effects of happiness and meaning on ratings of desirability and moral goodness. In the college sample, individuals high on all 3 independent variables were judged as likely to go to heaven. In the adult sample, wealth was also related to higher desirability. Results suggest a general perception that meaning in life and happiness are essential to the folk concept of the good life, whereas money is relatively unimportant.

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