It Takes More than Happy Feelings to Function Well: Distinguishing Between Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being in the Workplace
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- Institutt for psykologi 
Happiness has proven to have a great number of positive effects, including social bonding, better health and longer life. Within the well-being research, happiness is usually treated as a hedonic dimension consisting of a positive evaluation towards life, presence of pleasure and the absence of pain. A happy feeling however does not necessarily motivate individuals to go the extra mile and persist in the face of challenge. Another set of positive feelings and dispositions fills this role, for instance engagement, inspiration and personal growth. The different classes of positive feelings and dispositions are usually defined as hedonic well-being (HWB) (e.g. happiness and life satisfaction) and eudaimonic well-being (EWB) (e.g. inspiration and personal growth). Within the framework of positive psychology, the present thesis investigate how hedonic and eudaimonic dimensions of well-being relate to behavior and experience at work. Following the Functional Well-Being Approach (Vittersø, 2013a), feeling happy (HWB) and functioning well (EWB) are thought to play different roles in the good life and the regulation of behavior. Data were collected among members of the Occupational Health Services in Norway (N = 465), representing different occupations from the health services (e.g. doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and ergonomists). The sample had a mean age of 49.42 years, ranging from 27 to 69 years (SD = 9.70) with a total of 310 females (71.90%). The questionnaire consisted of standardized measures in addition to the Day Reconstruction Method, which provides subjective experiences from several episodes for each participant. Such data structures comprise episode (within-person) data nested under data at the person level (the betweenperson level) allowing for multilevel path analysis as well as traditional statistical analysis. Paper I investigates the differences between HWB and EWB and their relation to subjective health and sick-leave. HWB was conceptualized through life satisfaction and EWB was conceptualized through personal growth, both of which are considered relatively stable dispositions. Results showed that life satisfaction and personal growth had distinct relations to subjective health and sick-leave. While life satisfaction was negatively related to sick-leave, personal growth was positively related to sick-leave. The relation was mediated by subjective health for life satisfaction, but not for personal growth. Paper II includes the dispositional perspective, but focuses more strongly on the feelings associated with HWB and EWB. The primary aim was to investigate levels of happiness (as an indicator of HWB) and inspiration (as an indicator of EWB) in easy versus difficult work situations. Results showed that happiness and inspiration had distinct patterns in how they related to work situations. When working with difficult task, happiness decreased but inspiration increased. As indicated by the intra class correlation (ICC), almost 60% of the variance in happiness was stable across episodes, whereas only 26% of the variance in inspiration could be attributed to trait characteristics. Paper III deals with how to best measure optimal experiences, and in particular the state called flow. The psychometric quality of well-known measures of flow like the Challenge-Skill Ratio (CSR), the Experience Fluctuation Model (EFM) and the Flow Simplex (FS) are compared. Due to discrepancies in how flow is described and defined in the literature, the aim was also to explore whether flow belongs to the hedonic or the eudaimonic dimension. A new way of treating the data in terms of flow-distance (continuous variable) instead of predefined categories is explored. Results showed that the Flow Simplex was a more sensitive tool to capture the variations of experience, and that analyzing experience in terms of flow-distance removed the limitations associated with using the predefined categories of the EFM. All measures of flow explained substantially more variance in eudaimonic variables than hedonic variables, challenging the widespread idea that flow is about enjoying the activity. Taken together, analyses of the different elements in hedonia and eudaimonia indicated that HWB was associated with the evaluation of goals that have been achieved and needs that have been fulfilled, whereas EWB reflected the processes leading towards goal achievement and need fulfillment. Consequently, the hedonic dimension cannot adequately explain the bandwidth of human flourishing; a eudaimonic dimension must be added to fully account for the good life. To reveal such differences, the methods we use in analyzing data must be sensitive enough to capture the variations in experience.