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Expanding the social science of happiness

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 19 March 2018

This article has been updated


Valid and reliable self-report happiness scales have prompted a wellspring of research into the causes and consequences of human happiness, allowing researchers from across the social sciences to empirically address questions that were previously treated more theoretically in the social sciences, religion and philosophy. As this body of knowledge accumulates, we see a need for the study of happiness to be more social in both content and methodology. Specifically, we argue for a social science of happiness that further recognizes the importance of social connection and prosocial action for human well-being, and invests in greater collaboration across all disciplinary boundaries, especially among social scientists and policymakers. As a larger and stronger social science of happiness emerges, it both requires and is supported by a corresponding shift in policy from identifying and fixing problems to finding positive ways to promote well-being.

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Change history

  • 19 March 2018

    In the version of this Perspective originally published, both authors were incorrectly indicated as being at both affiliations 1 and 2. However, John F. Helliwell is only affiliated with the 1University of British Columbia and Lara B. Aknin is only affiliated with 2Simon Fraser University. This has now been corrected.


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J.F.H. and L.B.A. wrote and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to John F. Helliwell.

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Helliwell, J.F., Aknin, L.B. Expanding the social science of happiness. Nat Hum Behav 2, 248–252 (2018).

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