hedonic treadmill

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An interpretation of subjective well-being based on adaptation-level theory, published by the Canadian psychologist Philip Brickman (1943–82) and the US psychologist Donald T(homas) Campbell (1916–96) in a book chapter in 1971, according to which a person's moods change in response to good and bad experiences but return quickly to neutrality, so that both happiness and sadness tend to be transitory. In a classic article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1978), Brickman and two colleagues provided evidence showing that, a short while after the events that changed their lives, lottery winners are not substantially happier, and accident victims who have become paraplegic are not substantially less happy, than other people. See also prospect theory. [From Greek hedone pleasure + -ikos of, relating to, or resembling + English treadmill]

Subjects: Psychology.

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