Holli-Anne Passmore a PhD candidate in psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus Photo:contributed

UBC study focuses on reducing the fear of being too happy

The study proves people are able to control their own happiness

A UBC researcher has helped establish that, even for people who have a fear of happiness, brief, positive psychology interventions embedded within university courses can enhance well-being.

Holli-Anne Passmore, a PhD candidate in psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, does research on well-being and personal happiness. There are conflicting views on the value of happiness, and a person’s culture or religion can significantly affect how personal happiness is understood.

Related:UBC researchers uncover new ways to reduce opioid abuse

Collaborating with international colleagues, Passmore recently examined the effects of a positive psychology intervention (PPI) study at the culturally diverse Canadian University of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. More than 270 students, from 39 different countries, participated in the study and 78 per cent of them were Muslim. For half of the students, the Happiness 101 program was added to the regular curriculum of an Introduction to Psychology course.

Related: Fitzpatricks donate $1.25 million to UBC Okanagan

“Fear of happiness is a real thing. Others worry about the fragility of happiness,” Passmore said. “In some cultures, a person may not want to be too happy or believe that if they outwardly strive for happiness, they may tempt fate or create social disharmony. They may also believe that any happiness enjoyed will only be fleeting. Valuing happiness is not universally shared.”

“There are a lot of students who live with the underlying sentiment that happiness is beyond their control,” said Passmore. “They truly believe happiness is mainly controlled by specific events, or a religious deity or a being, or other circumstances.”

Related: Student whose throat was slashed in UBC dormitory alleges negligence in lawsuit

Passmore says participants learned to use positive psychology interventions—analytically validated and focused activities designed to increase the frequency of positive emotions and experiences. PPIs can help with anxiety, depression, somatic complaints, optimism, relationships, hopelessness, and the ability to deal with stress and trauma.

The researchers measured different aspects of the students’ well-being at the beginning and end of the semester, and three months later. Compared to students who were not exposed to the positive psychology interventions, students who had the PPI program added to the usual course content reported higher levels of well-being at the end of the semester. Additionally, says Passmore, fear of happiness decreased and the belief that happiness is fragile was also reduced. The boost in well-being and the decreases in beliefs regarding fear and fragility of happiness were still evident three months after the course.

“It’s important to validate the effectiveness of PPIs cross-culturally,” Passmore said. “This is the first study that we’re aware of, which shows you can manipulate beliefs in the fear and fragility of happiness. While no difference in religiosity was evident between the two groups at post-intervention, our participants came to the understanding that they do have some control over their own happiness.”

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

United Way celebrates seven decades of impact in Southern Interior

Organization sees issues with poverty, mental health and addictions, heighten during the pandemic

Primary Care Networks coming for Okanagan Nation Alliance communities

New partnerships will provide Syilx members with better, culturally-safe primary care

Okanagan rental housing market facing challenges due to COVID-19

The impact on real estate markets remains a wildcard

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna church service

Attendees of Calvary Chapel Kelowna’s Sept. 13 morning service may have been exposed

Kelowna man injured during arrest sues RCMP

Supreme Court civil claim alleges Dustin Blondin was the victim of an ‘unprovoked attack’

PHOTOS: Ghost sighting in Vernon’s Polson Park

Mom and daughter photoshoot brings joy and laughter to bystanders

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Parks Canada not responsible for Mount Kobau blockade

Nearby residents have been vocal about plans to turn the area into a national park

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Most Read