The Happiness Hypothesis By Jonathon Haidt

899 Words2 Pages

Positive illusions are a tricky topic. As Jonathon Haidt describes in The Happiness Hypothesis, people see themselves through a “rose-colored mirror,” consistently overestimating their own merits while judging others in a more realistic light. While an exaggerated view of one’s own abilities and skills can actually lead to higher levels of motivation, productivity, and success, it is also true that dramatically high self-perception has been linked to narcissism and mental illness. So, are positive illusions a good or bad thing overall? The answer is a simple one – both – but the benefits of positive illusions will only enhance the quality of a person’s life if they are not eventually overwhelmed by the consequences. Haidt discusses how a …show more content…

Generally, there are four main liabilities to positive illusions. First, people will set themselves up for unpleasant surprises for which they are ill prepared when their overly optimistic beliefs are proven false. They will also have to face and tackle the consequences thereafter. Second, people who hold positive illusions are more likely to set goals or undertake courses of action that will lead to failure rather than success. A third concern is that positive self-perceptions may have social costs. Haidt tells a story about how he stopped doing any work to keep his first college dorm room clean after he became frustrated with the fact that his roommates did not contribute any effort. This caused them all to not get along, and it was only until they no longer lived together did they become close friends. It was years later until Haidt realized what a fool he had been – of course he thought he was doing more than his share of work, he was aware of every little thing he did, while only partially aware of the others’ contributions. In social comparison, we naturally set up the comparison in a way that favors ourselves – a positive illusion – which can prove costly down the road. Finally, a fourth risk is that it can be psychologically harmful to realize that one’s actual competence does not match up to previous illusions. This can be harmful to …show more content…

They found that self-enhancement bias was directly related to narcissism, ego involvement, and self-serving attributions. Additionally, these self-enhancements did not predict higher academic performance or higher graduation rates. Therefore, the findings suggest that while positive illusions may provide some benefits in the short run, they do not in the long

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