ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 660-669.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00660

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The effect and mechanisms of self-transcendence values on durable happiness

LIU Ping1, ZHANG Rongwei2, LI Dan1()   

  1. 1Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China
    2Department of Public Administration, Fujian Academy of Governance, Fuzhou 350108, China
  • Received:2021-01-19 Online:2022-03-15 Published:2022-01-25
  • Contact: LI Dan


Values refer to what people find important in life, which play a guiding role during an individual’s development and always affect the individual’s cognition, emotion and motivation. The understanding and attitude towards happiness were closely related to values which one endorsed. According to the theory of human basic values and the self-centeredness versus selflessness happiness model, a person, who endorses on the self-enhancement values may pay more attention to personal interests and is also led by the hedonic principle, i.e., seeking pleasant and gratifying stimuli and avoiding unpleasant ones, the consequence may be fluctuating happiness in forms of the alternation of transitory pleasure and afflictive effects. In contrast, individuals who endorse values of self-transcendence may be concerned about the well-being of others and they are also guided by the harmony principle, meaning that they are harmoniously interconnected with all the elements of a whole including themselves, others and all living arrangements. Therefore, they are likely to experience durable happiness, which is characterized by a state of enduring contentment and inner peace. Therefore, by shifting the attention from self to others may help individuals experience durable happiness. To our knowledge, however, the underlying mechanisms of the relationship between values of self-transcendence and durable happiness have received little attention. Therefore, the aim of the current study is to review the role of the values of self-transcendence in durable happiness and its mechanisms, to discover the path to find durable happiness. First, the role of the values of self-transcendence in durable happiness was disclosed. On one hand, values of self-transcendence were beneficial to mental health, and individuals may by means of the values experience fewer negative emotions in forms of anxiety, loneliness and depression; on the other hand, values of self-transcendence help an individual to establish and maintain harmonious interpersonal relationships, and thereby make an individual feel more connected and satisfied. Secondly, as far as the mechanism is concerned, the current study summarized the potential mechanisms between the values of self-transcendence and durable happiness from different perspectives such as cognition, emotion and behavior. Exactly, individuals who endorsed the values of self-transcendence may pay less attention to their own interests; therefore, they may reduce their worries about self- deficiencies and react less defensively to self-threatening information. This may release the negative impact of threats in terms of harmful emotional experience and hostile relationships. Then, less defensive responses may cut the distinctions and boundaries between self and others, self and the environment, and individuals may experience more socially engaging emotions such as empathy, compassion and love, which helps to strengthen interpersonal connections and enhances emotional stability. And socially engaging emotions may further stimulate individuals to display more prosocial behaviors, which may increase the sense of meaning in life and social cohesion. Overall, through these three paths, individuals who endorsed the values of self-transcendence may experience durable happiness. Although previous studies have contributed to investigate the mechanisms between values of self-transcendence and durable happiness, there are still some questions that need answers. Thus, the current study puts forward some valuable directions for future studies. Specifically, a variety of methods and means (such as longitudinal research, ERPs, fMRI) should be used to investigate the effect of values of self-transcendence on durable happiness. In addition, other potential mechanisms between the two variables, such as emotion regulation can be studied. Also, education about values of self-transcendence should be carried out to cultivate a healthy social mentality through joint efforts by families, schools and society.

Key words: self-transcendence values, durable happiness, self-threatening, socially engaging emotions, prosocial behaviors

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