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Edward F. Diener

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Edward Diener (born 1946) is an American psychologist, professor, and author. He is noted for his research over the past twenty-five years[1][2][3] on happiness — the measurement of well-being; temperament and personality influences on well-being; theories of well-being; income and well-being; and cultural influences on well-being.[4]

For his fundamental research on the subject, Diener is nicknamed Dr. Happiness.[5] He has worked with researchers Daniel Kahneman and Martin Seligman — and he is a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization.


Diener was born in 1946 in Glendale, California and grew up on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California. His wife, Carol and three of his children are psychologists.

He attended San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno and subsequently received his B.A. in Psychology in 1968 from California State University at Fresno. He received his doctorate at the University of Washington in 1974 and was a faculty member at the University of Illinois for 34 years, retiring from active teaching in 2008.

He holds the Smiley chair, the Joseph R. Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology, at the University of Illinois. In 2010 he received honorary doctorates from the Free University of Berlin and Eureka College. He has won the distinguished scientist award from the International Society of Quality of Life Studies, as well as the Jack Block award for outstanding contributions to personality psychology.

Happiness Research

In 2002, Diener conducted a study at the University of Illinois with Martin Seligman, finding that "the most salient characteristics shared by the 10% of students with the highest levels of happiness and the fewest signs of depression were their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them."[4] Diener has said "It is important to work on social skills, close interpersonal ties and social support in order to be happy."[4]

Diener's research showed that once a person's "basic needs are met, additional income does little to raise your sense of satisfaction with life.[4] According to Diener, two events in a person's life with the greatest impact were shown to be loss of a spouse (taking 5-8 years for recovery) and loss of a job. [4]

To facilitate happiness research, Diener created the Satisfaction with Life Scale, a basic and widely used tool.[4]


Diener has been awarded the 2012 Distinguished Scientist Lifetime Career Award by the American Psychological Association. Diener founded a new journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science, which has become one of the most acclaimed and widely read journals in the field. Diener is listed on the Institute of Scientific Information’s most-cited psychologist list, with a total of approximately 27,000 citations. Diener has published 300 books and articles. He has several Psychological Bulletin articles, several American Psychologist papers, 7 publications in Psychological Science, and over 50 publications in JPSP, more than any other author. He has authored three books and edited seven more. Working with the Gallup survey organization, Diener conducted the first poll of the world ever conducted, including 155 nations and representing 99 percent of the population of the globe. More than any other scientist, Diener has studied the poorest people in the world, including groups such as the homeless and those living in slums such as in Calcutta. In this research he has discovered how some individuals can achieve positive well-being in dire circumstances, for example through their relationships and spirituality. In recognition of his scientific contributions, Ed Diener holds an endowed chair at his university, the Joseph R. Smiley Distinguished Professorship of Psychology. He has received the Distinguished Scientist Award from both the American Psychological Association and the International Society of Quality of Life Studies, and the outstanding personality psychologist award (the “Jack Block Award”) from Division 8 of APA, the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. Diener has several honorary doctorates to his name, is a fellow of five scientific societies, and he has been the focus of many popular media articles, from Newsweek to the Wall Street Journal to Reader’s Digest.

Partial bibliography

  • Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, with his son, Robert Biswas-Diener.
  • Well-being and Public Policy (2009) with John Helliwell, Richard Lucas, Ulrich Schimmack
  • International Differences in Well-Being (2010) with Daniel Kahneman and John Helliwell.

See also


  1. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71- 75.
  2. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.
  3. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychology, 55(1), 34-43.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 includeonly>"The New Science of Happiness", Time Magazine, Claudia Wallis, Jan. 09, 2005, January 9, 2005.
  5. includeonly>"The Science of Happiness Turns 10. What Has It Taught?", Time Magazine, Claudia Wallis, July 8 2009, July 8, 2009.

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