Would You Be Happier If You Looked Better? A Focusing Illusion



Kaczmarek LD, Enko J, Awdziejczyk M, Hoffmann N, Bialobrzeska N, Mielniczuk P & Dombrowski SU (2016) Would You Be Happier If You Looked Better? A Focusing Illusion. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17 (1), pp. 357-365.

Some people might believe that individuals who are more satisfied with their body are also happier. However, people tend to overrate the influence of some factors (e.g. money or health) on their happiness; a phenomenon termed the focusing illusion. Our aim was to examine the focusing illusion in relation to body satisfaction. We experimentally manipulated body satisfaction and life satisfaction focus by varying the order of relevant measurement scales. Volunteers (N = 97) completed two questionnaires placed in separate envelopes to control the order of scales administration. Participants either completed the Body Satisfaction Scale followed by the Satisfaction with Life Scale or vice versa. In line with the focusing illusion the association between body satisfaction and life satisfaction was significantly stronger when participants were asked about their body satisfaction first. Body satisfaction as a focusing illusion may need to be considered by scientist as well as lay people who try to look better and be happier.

Life satisfaction; Body satisfaction; Focusing illusion

Journal of Happiness Studies: Volume 17, Issue 1

Publication date29/02/2016
Publication date online23/11/2014

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Dr Stephan Dombrowski
Dr Stephan Dombrowski

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Psychology