Big events like marriage or the death of a parent or spouse can cause great distress or joy, but they do not seem to change a person's overall, long-term sense of well-being.
This is indicated by a new study reported in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.The study also showed that unhappy people do not really experience bad luck any more often than happy people.
"Only recent events seemed to influence a person's well-being," said psychologist Ed Diener, one of the study's authors," and this effect drops off very quickly" - in about three months in most cases, he said.
Diener cited other research results that he believes support his findings.
For example, researchers have found that lottery winners aren't significantly happier than people who haven't won a big pile of money, and that people who sustained permanent injury from an accident were only slightly less happy than other people.
The new study, among other things, examined 115 college students in an effort to find out how long they took to adapt to either positive or negative events over a four-year period.
The list of events included such things as getting married, getting divorced, being a victim of a violent crime, starting a new business or job, becoming an aunt or grandparent, making up with a romantic partner, getting an "A" in a course, getting fired or experiencing the death of a close friend.
The authors also looked at whether these or other major events had long-term effects and how someone's personality can influence his or her response.
The study questions the popular notion that some people are consistently lucky or unlucky. "If a person experiences many bad events, she or he is also likely to experience many good things during the same period," said Diener.
The authors concluded that enduring individual characteristics such as a stable personality were much more important in determining how well a person adapts to life - whatever it dishes out.
- Maturity News Service