Causal Attributions of Happiness and Critical Events

How Beliefs About People’s Happiness Are Affected by Moments of Crisis and Joy

Image credit: [Soir Blue, Hopper]


This study extends the literature on people’s understanding of happiness by asking whether positive and negative events could affect the causal attributions of what makes others happy. Using a factorial survey applied to a representative and probabilistic sample of Chileans, we examined three central causal attributions deeply rooted in Latin American folk culture. The results show that the positive family causal attribution of others’ happiness is reinforced by both negative and positive events that happened to the observer. Moreover, the attributions of health and income are unchanged. Finally, we discussed how this study contributes to understanding people’s causal attributions by examining how they are modified by critical events that affect the observer.

Social Psychology, Forthcoming