Does Happiness Promote Career Success? Revisiting the Evidence

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Empirical research demonstrates a relationship between happiness and career success. For example, happy people receive higher earnings, exhibit better performance, and obtain more favorable supervisor evaluations than their less happy peers. Researchers have posited that success leads to happiness, but Boehm and Lyubomirsky reviewed the relevant research in 2008 and argued that the alternative hypothesis—that happiness causes success—may be equally plausible. A decade later, we return to the literature to supplement studies we previously cited with new research and to determine whether the results of cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental investigations provide additional support for this hypothesis. We conclude that the evidence continues to persuasively suggest that happiness is correlated with and often precedes career success and that experimentally enhancing positive emotions leads to improved outcomes in the workplace.


This article was originally published in Journal of Career Assessment, volume 26, issue 2, in 2018. DOI: 10.1177/1069072717751441


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