Psychology: Nature versus Nurture and Happiness Essay

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The nature versus nurture debate is being discussed in this essay . There are many theories for both , arguing from an environmental point of view to looking at the argument of genetics as being important factor in determining the outcome of things. This essay will look at what makes people happy according to social and psychological studies. . Studies will be looked at which attempt to define optimism , and I shall look at variables like poverty and economics , which are said play a large part in answering the question of what factors , pre- dispose us to having a positive attitude .
According to psychologists, happiness is not an easy quality to define. However we can agree for the purposes of this essay to decide on simple definition of happiness as , a positive feeling of emotions . Conversely unhappiness as defined by some authors is a negative feeling associated with a wide range of feelings such as sadness and depression . Also , when we are happy according to some writers we want the feelings of happiness to continue , but if we are unhappy we want the feelings to stop.
Spoors, P., Finlay , L. and Dyer , E (2007)
Some writers have suggested that poverty plays a role in happiness , however we can see that along with a higher standard of living there can be more problems when our lives become more complex and we have more responsibilities , therefore having more money is just a another reason to be unhappy. Modern industrial life is complex and therefore many sociologists have associated poor income with depressions. However this is just one side of the coin. Psychologists have introduced the idea of having control over our environment ,which they have argued allows us to be able to feel secure. With increasing changes to our life styles the only way we can take control over our environment is to take control over our thinking processes this will be explored in this essay.
“There is nothing either good or bad , but thinking makes it so” How can the way that we think influence, how happy we feel? As the quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet above suggests , the way that people think can make a situation seems good or bad . It has been found in many studies that optimists are healthier than pessimists - a positive outlook can have great influence on levels of happiness. For example in a study Toshihiko Maruta and colleagues (2002) at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota took a group of 839 patients and tested them to measure level of happiness – by the year 2000 – 200 had died- those measured as optimists had a 19 % greater longevity than the pessimists . In another study Martin Seligman (2005) considered the effects of engendering an optimist outlook - in his study 577 people asked to write about a good experience and identify positive personal strengths , then to reflect on it daily for a week . Seligman found that the happiness levels of the group increased significantly and stayed this way even after six month . Making a daily reflect on some of the good things in our life appears to have a major impact on our happiness. But in a modern society with all the complexities of choices available to people - the choice people make , can be a source of stress and unhappiness . Barry Schwartz (2005) – describes a group of people he terms a “ Maximisers “ these are people who obsessed about making the right or best choice every time . He contrast these people with a group he terms a “ Satisfiers “ . Whilst the “ maximisers “ will endlessly stress over what could happened , the “satisfiers “ whilst possibly not take the best choice , but