Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Sarah O’Neill

Second Advisor

Ann Marie Yali


hedonia, eudaimonia, academic success, wellbeing, executive functioning


This study examined the relations between happiness and academic success and wellbeing in a diverse, urban college sample by viewing happiness through the lens of hedonia (seeking pleasure and relaxation) and eudaimonia (seeking meaning), and their neuropsychological correlates. Undergraduate students (n=76; 68.4% female; mean age [SD]=21.17 [3.12]) completed self-report measures of hedonia and eudaimonia, and depression, anxiety, and stress. They also completed objective measures of “cool” executive functioning (WAIS-IV Digit Span, Stroop Color-Word test, Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, and a Stop Signal task) and “hot” executive functioning (Iowa Gambling Task, Temporal Discounting Task). Semester GPA was collected from school records. Eudaimonia was significantly positively associated with GPA. Eudaimonia was also significantly negatively associated with depression, and individuals living the Full Life (high hedonia and high eudaimonia) had significantly lower depression compared to those living the Empty Life (low in both constructs). There were no significant correlations between “cool” executive functions and either hedonia or eudaimonia. Individuals living the Hedonic Life (high hedonia and low eudaimonia) were significantly more likely to prefer smaller more immediate rewards than those living the Eudaimonic Life (low in hedonia, high in eudaimonia). Additionally, there was a trend for individuals living the Full Life to make more risky decisions. Looking at both separate and combined effects of hedonia and eudaimonia might provide more nuanced insight into the relations between happiness and positive outcomes. Furthermore, affective decision-making offers promise for investigating the interaction between hedonic and eudaimonic processes, and how they exert an effect on positive outcomes.



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