Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Richard A. Brymer




The following study attempts to investigate the emotion of happiness from a sociological perspective. By developing an interactional model integrating social definitions of the self, cognitive definitions of emotion and various cultural beliefs, this fundamental emotion is examined in detail.

Of central concern in this endeavor is a fourfold typology of perceptual and evaluative beliefs that individuals hold in relation to the self that enable them to both passively experience and consciously manage happiness/ unhappiness. When these beliefs are looked at in light of the self, it becomes apparent that different typical beliefs may be more effective with respect to the different roles occupied by individuals. Moreover, individuals may move between different typical beliefs to adjust to present interactional circumstances.

This theoretical model is then operationalized by qualitatively examining the beliefs that a variety of single individuals exhibit regarding dating and relationships.

The results of this effort demonstrate a new, sociological approach to the study of human happiness, with a variety of research implications for philosophy, the sociology of emotion, the structure of the self, and role theory.

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