What Makes for a Merry Christmas?

Research paper by Tim Kasser, Kennon M. Sheldon

Indexed on: 01 Dec '02Published on: 01 Dec '02Published in: Journal of happiness studies


Despite the importance of Christmas within many cultures, researchhas not examined the types of experiences and activities that are associated withholiday well-being. Thus, we asked 117 individuals, ranging in age from 18 to 80,to answer questions about their satisfaction, stress, and emotional state during theChristmas season, as well as questions about their experiences, use of money, andconsumption behaviors. More happiness was reported when family and religiousexperiences were especially salient, and lower well-being occurred when spendingmoney and receiving gifts predominated. Engaging in environmentally consciousconsumption practices also predicted a happier holiday, as did being older and male.In sum, the materialistic aspects of modern Christmas celebrations may underminewell-being, while family and spiritual activities may help people to feel more satisfied.

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