Skip navigation

Well Being and Quality of Life

During the past century, psychology has helped unlock many of the mysteries of human behavior and clarified the sources of many illnesses of the mind. But, until recently, this young science did not have much to say about what made life worth living. Happiness, hope, courage, and other positive experiences that are so important to our private existence were considered too subjective to be amenable to rigorous investigation. Only in the last decade have scholars recognized that quality of life is too important to be ignored any longer. New technologies and new conceptual frameworks have emerged for studying the large variety of human strengths and their impact on physical and mental health. Comparative studies of happiness, of the neurophysiology of optimal experiences, and the role of altruism, forgiveness, and gratitude in improving the quality of lives have begun to open up exciting new directions for cognitive, neuroscientific, and social research. The MIT Press Well-Being and Quality of Life series intends to take a position of leadership in charting the progress of this new domain, in order to advance our knowledge of the objective bases of subjective well-being.

The question of what constitutes the good life has been pondered for millennia. Yet only in the last decades has the study of well-being become a scientific endeavor. This book is based on the idea that we can empirically study quality of life and make cross-society comparisons of subjective well-being (SWB).