Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Hadza report a higher happiness with their lives than do Polish people; age was a negative predictor of happiness only for Poles; maybe a positive perception of aging in societies may increase happiness

Subjective Happiness Among Polish and Hadza People. Tomasz Frackowiak, Anna Oleszkiewicz, Marina Butovskaya, Agata Groyecka, Maciej Karwowski, Marta Kowal and Piotr Sorokowski. Front. Psychol., June 9 2020, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01173

Abstract: Life satisfaction and happiness were broadly studied in Western populations, whereas evidence from traditional societies remains surprisingly scarce. We collected data on the happiness from 145 Hadza, and compared it with data obtained from 156 Poles, representing Westernized society. Participants were asked to answer four simple questions from Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky and Lepper, 1999). Results indicate that Hadza report a higher level of happiness with their lives than do Polish people. Our findings also show that sex was not related to happiness in both populations, while age was a negative predictor of happiness, but only among Poles. Therefore, we hypothesize that positive perception of aging in societies may increase their actual happiness.


The current investigation aimed to explore happiness of Hadza hunter-gatherers and Poles. Results of both studies showed that Hadza reported a higher level of happiness with their lives compared with Polish people. In both studies, sex was not related to participants’ happiness. Exploratory analysis from the first study provided evidence for a curvilinear link between age and happiness among Poles (but not among Hadza). We have then confirmed this hypothesis in the second study, using a validated measurement – Subjective Happiness Scale. Age was a negative predictor of happiness in Poland, whereas no such relationship was observed in Hadza. Therefore, we hypothesize that positive perception of aging in societies may increase their actual happiness (Levy et al., 20022014Ingrand et al., 2018).
Albeit simpler and more nature-dependent life, highly egalitarian social structure, and a high degree of cooperation Hadza are known for Marlowe (20042009)Apicella et al. (2012)Henrich (2012), can be named among possible reasons to explain the current findings in differences in happiness. Such social organization in Hadza might explain why the level of subjective happiness is independent from age, as opposed to Polish society, wherein subjective happiness declines with age. Perhaps Hadza of old age find their place in the social organization, and their contribution to the society remains high despite not being as fit as in younger age. The best illustration are Hadza grandmothers, investing actively in grandchildren, and providing better chances for their survival (Hawkes et al., 1997Crittenden and Marlowe, 20082013). Nevertheless, what is worth highlighting is that also numerous other factors can account for the observed differences between Hadza and members of the Western countries, for instance, differences in pollution, access to firearms, or living in communities of millions instead of 20–30 people (Welsch, 2006Lankford, 2016Okulicz-Kozaryn and Mazelis, 2018). Moreover, our results are contradictory to findings of previous studies, which suggested that the relationship between age and happiness in more developed, Western societies is U-shaped, with older people showing greater happiness than middle-aged (Blanchflower and Oswald, 2008Wolpert, 2010). On the other hand, Frijters and Beatton (2012) provided evidence that the widely reported U-shape is just an artifact of the bias of coefficients of variables, which peak in middle-age (e.g., income, marriage, and employment).
Our results are intriguing in the light of previous findings on the material resources being a necessary condition for raising the level of happiness in the population (Devoto et al., 2012Mahasuweerachai and Pangjai, 2018). Hadza present very remote and mobile way of living. Individuals change camps every few months and the whole population resides where natural resources (e.g., game, plants) allow their subsistence (Woodburn, 2017ab). The lack of accumulated goods further eases mobility. We speculate that the relatively high level of Hadza happiness is rooted in their social organization and culture directed toward the community. In fact, happiness is related with communal, interpersonally-oriented traits and high positive affect (Furr, 2005). Moreover, many studies highlight the role of social support and social ties in developing and maintaining high levels of happiness and well-being (Chan and Lee, 2006Aknin et al., 2011). It is, thus, not surprising that positive psychologists, psychotherapists, and even World Bank recommend fostering quality social ties, as they have a significant and positive effect on happiness (World Development Report, 2003Lakey, 2013Compton and Hoffman, 2019). Although evidence for the relationship between the social support, communion and happiness comes from the modern societies (Hermans, 1992Helgeson, 1994), we speculate that communal behaviors are present and promoted among Hadza to a larger extent, as they manifests in hunting, sharing food and motherhood challenges (Hawkes et al., 19892001Marlowe, 2009Apicella et al., 2012Henrich, 2012), which can translate into a high level of happiness.
In the present research, we have used two measures of happiness – in the first study, we assessed happiness by referring to an affective aspect, whereas in the second study, we used Subjective Happiness Scale, which relates both to the affective and cognitive components (Lyubomirsky and Lepper, 1999). This may be important, as there are various definitions of happiness, including ones based entirely on emotions, and others based purely on thinking (Veenhoven, 2009). Findings of the present study suggest that both cognitively and affectively perceived happiness is higher among Hadza in comparison with more industrialized societies.
It would be interesting to test whether hunter-gatherer societies have higher happiness than pastoralists and agriculturalists. Agriculture opens the possibility for social stratification and exploitation. That is why some authors suggested that from the viewpoint of individual happiness, the “agricultural revolution” was the worst mistake in the history of the human race (see Harari, 2014). Such hypothesis could be explored in Hadza, whose territories are surrounded by Datoga pastoralists, and Iraqw agro-pastoralists. Moreover, as happiness can be affected by numerous factors (e.g., standard of living, or relationships), future studies should focus on exploring possible moderators of happiness in more traditional populations.
The readers may wonder whether the Hadza fully comprehended the given task (i.e., rating their happiness level). The authors have years of experience in conducting such studies, especially among the Hadza population, thus, with fairly high certainty, we can ensure that our participants understood the scales used in the present study. When the Hadza do not understand the question they are being asked, not only their facial expressions and non-verbal behavior change, but they also admit they do not comprehend the given task. Usually, when we have concerns about the question comprehension, we randomly ask the same questions twice. As we had no doubts that the Hadza understood the task of the present study, we did not perform such checking techniques. Nevertheless, this can be regarded as a potential limitation of the present study (and in general, many other studies conducted among the traditional, illiterate populations).
Another possible limitation of the present findings is that, due to the small samples, recruiting techniques, and lack of extensive information regarding participants from both populations, final samples do not necessarily represent well the whole societies they derive from (i.e., Polish and Hadza). Similarly, we chose Hadza and Poles as representatives of traditional and modern societies, having no certainty that Poles are indeed typical for all non-Western countries and Hadza do not necessarily represent all hunter-gatherer cultures. Nevertheless, Poles do present a modern, industrialized way of living and as members of European Union are strongly bonded with and influenced by other cultures of the West. Yet, one needs to bear these in mind when interpreting the results of the present study.

We would also like to note the fact that some of our statistical decisions may be considered suboptimal. In the first study we merged two categories of answers, namely “sad” and “sometimes happy and sometimes sad” into one category. We acknowledge that this decision might be considered problematic, but because we were interested in “happiness,” it made sense to dichotomize our participants into those who considered themselves “happy” vs. the rest. In the second study, we did not test for invariance in each group (i.e., Poles and Hadza) separately. Instead, we tested configural, metric and scalar invariance in multi-group CFA: a solution that resulted in higher statistical power of our analyses.

Disgust: While avoiding contaminated food is a key adaptive problem, we also had to avoid having sex with individuals that could harm our survival, our children’s survival, or generally reproductive success

Sexual Disgust: An Evolutionary Perspective. Courtney L. Crosby and David M. Buss.  Emotion Researcher, 2020. emotionresearcher.com/sexual-disgust-an-evolutionary-perspective/

Introduction: One of the first emotions explored by Charles Darwin, disgust, presumably evolved to solve adaptive problems related to our health. Examples of these problems include avoiding ingesting toxic or pathogenic substances, such as rotting meat or moldy mushrooms. However, a key scientific question is whether disgust evolved to solve adaptive challenges in addition to food consumption. Darwin described disgust as a revulsion to offensive objects, primarily those of taste, but extended to anything that causes extreme dislike or distaste—through vision, smell, or touch (Darwin, 1872). While avoiding contaminated food is a key adaptive problem that our human ancestors faced, they also had to avoid having sex with individuals that could harm their survival, their children’s survival, or more generally their reproductive success. Sexual disgust may have evolved as a somewhat specialized emotion—based on the underlying architecture of disgust—to solve these problems (Tybur, Lieberman, & Griskevicius, 2009).