​Our lab studies multiple issues in social psychology relevant to HAPPINESS. In addition to examining individual differences (personality, motivation, lay beliefs, social relations) and cultural factors, we are lately trying to understand the nature of happiness with an evolutionary spin. ​

Happiness (Subjective Well-Being): Overview

Since Ed Diener’s (1984) landmark paper on subjective well-being, happiness has become an actively studied scientific topic. The following papers offer overview of subtopics.  

- Summary of 3 decades of subjective well-being research (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999). 

- Evolutionary account for why people are generally happy (Diener, Kanazawa, Suh, & Oishi, 2015)

- Culture and happiness (Suh & Choi, 2018; Suh & Koo, 2008) 

- SWB versus other measures of well-being (Diener & Suh, 1997; Diener, Sapyta, & Suh, 1998) 

Who is happy?

Many believe that happiness is essentially the sum of having the good things of life (e.g., money, health). Scientific findings conclude otherwise. Happiness seems to depend less on what you “have” than “who” you are. We find that a number of individual characteristics that distinguishes the happy from others: 


- Happy people’s judgments of self & happiness are more internal, abstract, and anchored on “best” life domains 

   (Diener, Lucas, Oishi, & Suh, 2002; Diener, Scollon, Oishi, Dzokoto, & Suh, 2000; Suh, Diener, Oishi, & Triandis, 1998;

   Suh, Diener, & Updegraff, 2008; Updegraff, Emmaneul, Suh, & Gallagher, 2010; Updegraff & Suh, 2007)

- Extraversion/Social experience

   (Choi et al., 2018; Heo, Koo, & Suh, 2014;  Kim, Lim, & Suh, 2017; Lee et al., 2008; Lucas, Diener, Grob, Suh, & Shao, 2000)

- Lay beliefs of happiness (Koo & Suh, 2007; Shin, Suh, Eom, & Kim, 2018; Shin & Suh, 2018

Culture & Happiness

Culture is part and parcel of everyday life, to the point of becoming somewhat “invisible” to those immersed in it. Yet, research finds considerable global variation in the level of happiness, and interesting cultural shades are found in the judgment, expression, and beliefs about happiness. 


Edited volume on happiness and culture (Diener, & Suh, 2000).

   For a more recent review of this field, see Suh & Choi (2018)

- Why are East Asians less happy? (Diener et al., 2010; Koo & Suh, 2015; Suh, 2007; Suh & Koo, 2008). ; 

- Happiness is more emotion-centered in Western cultures 

   (Diener, Lucas, Oishi, & Suh, 2002; Suh, Diener, Oishi, & Triandis, 1998, Suh, Diener, & Updegraff, 2008). 

- Culture x Gene interaction (Kim et al., 2010a, 2010b

- Various cultural predictors of happiness

   (self-consistency, Suh, 2002; felt understanding, Oishi et al., 2013; needs and values, Oishi et al., 1999;

    marital status, Diener et al., 2000; words associated with happiness, Shin, Suh, Eom, & Kim, 2018;

    power, Park & Suh, 2018; capitalization, Choi et al., 2018)

Happiness (and Positive Emotions): What is it for?

For decades, the central question in the field of happiness was understanding who is happy and why. Our lab has begun working on one interesting, but yet relatively unexamined question: What does happiness “do” for the person? As all living organisms, our physical body as well as inner experiences have been shaped through evolutionary history. We speculate that happiness partly functions as an experiential signal that monitors and forecasts one’s survival and reproductive prospects.   


- Positive mood linked with biological prosperity (Diener, Kanazawa, Suh, & Oishi, 2015)

- Happiness judgments reflect sex-specific markers of mate value

   (Ko & Suh, 2018; Shin & Suh, 2018Shin, Suh, & Jang, 2018)

- Positive affect responds to proximity cues (Shin, Suh, Li, Eo, Chong, & Tsai, 2018)

- Life history theory and happiness judgment (Choi & Suh, 2018)

​한국인의 행복: Korean articles

- 한국인의 행복: 일반

   (개괄논문, 구재선, 서은국, 2011; 단축형 행복 척도, 서은국, 구재선, 2011; 삶의 만족도 척도, 임낭연, 이화령, 서은국, 2010)

- 행복의 결과물

   (이타성과 시민의식, 신지은, 최혜원, 서은국, 구재선, 2013; 학업성적, 구재선, 서은국, 2012; 연봉, 구재선, 서은국, 2013)  

- 사회적 경험과 외로움

   (김가영, 임낭연, 서은국, 2016; 신지은, 김정기, 서은국, 임낭연, 2017)

- 행복관, 정서예측과 조절

   (구자영, 서은국, 2007; 박정현, 서은국, 2005; 성민선, 서은국, 전우영, 2007; 이은경 등, 2009; 이화령 등, 2008; 신지은 등, 2017)

- 일상경험

   (외모, 김진주, 구자영, 서은국, 2006; 수면, 신지은, 김정기, 임낭연, 2017; 기숙사 룸메이트 만족감, 신지은, 김정기, 서은국, 2017; 

   기본욕구의 중요성, 허청라, 구재선, 서은국, 2014)