Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology

First Advisor

Maria Schmeeckle


Happiness has been an important aspect of people’s lives spanning centuries and continents; as such, it is a widely researched area. A current prominent theory in happiness research is Needs Theory which has the premise that there are universal human needs and having these needs met would lead to a person’s happiness. Most often, the needs referenced are those presented by Abraham Maslow including needs of physiology, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem, knowing and understanding, aesthetics, self-actualization and transcendence. However, some studies have found that there are individuals who do not fit this theory either through having their needs met and not being happy or by not having their needs met and being happy. This study identified people falling into both categories and conducted interviews to determine what other factors may be influencing their happiness or lack of happiness. Of the eight participants, seven were not happy despite having their needs met and one participant was happy despite her needs not being met. Interviews with these participants found three areas of exception to Needs Theory. Firstly, some participants had a need met in one way but not met in another way. Secondly, some participants had needs that were partially met. Thirdly, there were factors that influenced happiness that were not explained by the Maslow Needs. These factors included past traumas, transitional periods, negative thought cycles, repeated failures, unmet expectations, comparisons, practical barriers and empathy which affected Needs Met, Not Happy participants. Equally, non-Maslow factors that affected the Needs Not Met, Happy participant were having fewer expectations, an optimistic perspective, incorporated strategies to improve happiness and resilience. Due to the presence of these factors, it was determined that relying solely on need acquisition for assessing happiness is incomplete. As an alternative, looking at the balance between positive and negative factors as well as a person’s perspective and ability to cope with such factors is a more important determinant of happiness.


Imported from ProQuest Moe_ilstu_0092N_11552.pdf


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