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Learned happiness: Increasing an internal locus of control for positive events

24 July 2006


The current study investigated a self-administered intervention for increasing levels of happiness within the general population. The impetus for this study stems from the positive psychology movement, which emphasizes the importance of building optimal functioning as a means of bolstering resiliency and preventing emotional distress. This study modified a previously researched "gratitude" intervention in an attempt to increase participants' internal locus of control for the positive events of their lives. Participants were 80 college students randomly assigned to one of two groups: The intervention group (n = 34) listed positive events from their day for a two-week period and rated the extent to which they contributed to these events; Participants in the control group (n = 46) listed daily events for the same period with no instructions to focus on positive events or rank their contribution. Results of an analysis of covariance showed no significant differences between the intervention and control groups on measures of subjective happiness, positive and negative affect, and attribution style (p >.01). The average number of daily positive events listed was not significantly associated with changes on any of the dependent variables. In addition, there was no significant association between changes in attribution style and changes in subjective happiness or positive affect. However, there was a significant association between increases in optimistic attribution style and decreases in negative affect and increases in positive affect. Implications and limitations of the current study are discussed.


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