A dark side of happiness? How, when, and why happiness is not always good

June Gruber*, Iris B. Mauss, Maya Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

344 Scopus citations


Happiness is generally considered a source of good outcomes. Research has highlighted the ways in which happiness facilitates the pursuit of important goals, contributes to vital social bonds, broadens people's scope of attention, and increases well-being and psychological health. However, is happiness always a good thing? This review suggests that the pursuit and experience of happiness might sometimes lead to negative outcomes. We focus on four questions regarding this purported "dark side" of happiness. First, is there a wrong degree of happiness? Second, is there a wrong time for happiness? Third, are there wrong ways to pursue happiness? Fourth, are there wrong types of happiness? Cumulatively, these lines of research suggest that although happiness is often highly beneficial, it may not be beneficial at every level, in every context, for every reason, and in every variety.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)222-233
Number of pages12
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant AG031967 to Iris B. Mauss and by National Science Foundation Grant SES 0920918 to Maya Tamir.


  • Emotion
  • Happiness
  • Mania
  • Well-being


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