Locating Happiness: A UCF Psychology Professor Weighs In

Psychology Assistant Professor Kristin Horan, Ph.D., recently contributed to WalletHub’s “2019 Happiest Cities in America.”

Horan spoke about the different factors that can affect a person’s happiness, such as political climate, career, age, and income.

“They [American Psychological Association] found that almost two-thirds of Americans feel that worrying over the nation’s future was a “significant” or “very significant” source of stress in their life, due to reasons such as divisiveness between political parties and nearly constant exposure to news media,” she told WalletHub.

Her tip for people unhappy with their career? Take an active approach.

“Research on a process called job crafting finds that employees can individually redesign their own job by purposefully crafting their job tasks, work relationships, and perceptions of their job,” she said.

Horan also noted how individual’s perception of happiness changes with age, citing research that shows younger individuals seek more knowledge and experiences to feel happy, while older adults focus more on the meaning of the experience.

The list was compiled using information from various studies, and looked at 182 of the largest cities in the US. WalletHub then compared them across three criteria of emotional and physical well-being; income & employment; and community and environment. They then used a 100-point scale to determine “happiness,” with 100 representing maximum happiness.

First on the list was Plano, Texas, with 72.30 points, followed by Irvine, California, (71.86) and Madison, Wisconsin. (71.81). Charleston, WV, Toledo, OH and Detroit, MI were in the last three spots, with 39.68, 39.48, and 29.19 points, respectively. Orlando ranked 83 with 58.04 points.

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