Edward Diener, Psychologist Referred to as Dr. Happiness, Dies at 74

A curious, adventurous boy, he said he once threw a stone at a swarm of bees to see what they would do. As a teenager, he climbed the Golden Gate Bridge and experimented with gunpowder, gasoline, and fire.

His father wanted Edward to follow him into the farm. But studying agriculture at Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno) bored him, and he took an interest in psychology.

Before getting his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1968, he proposed a research project that looked at the happiness of migrant workers, some of whom he knew from his family’s farm. But his professor rejected the idea, stating that farm workers as a group are unhappy and that there is no way to measure happiness. So Dr. Servant another issue: conformity.

As a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, Dr. Servant as an administrator in a small mental hospital before resuming his studies at the University of Washington, where he obtained his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1974. He soon joined the faculty of the University of Illinois.

As a doctoral student and young professor, Dr. Servants for de-individualization, the loss of self-awareness in groups. He didn’t study happiness until the early 1980s, a shift he said was partly influenced by his optimistic parents.

“My mother gave me books like ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale, and that piqued my interest,” he said in an autobiographical essay for the book Journeys in Social Psychology (2008), edited by Robert Levine, Lynnette Zelezny and Aroldo Rodrigues. “My mother told me that criticism can also be formulated positively.”

Dr. Diener has developed several methods of measuring wellbeing. One of them, the Satisfaction With Life Scale, consists of five statements that were asked of the respondents in small and large studies, such as “My life is in many ways close to my ideal” and “My living conditions are excellent”. The respondents were asked to answer on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly applies).

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