Hedonic Adaptation Critics - Deepstash

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Hedonic Adaptation Critics

Critics view the hedonic adaptation tendency as a generalization that fails to take potentially shifting factors into account.

  • Significant life events such as loss of employment or the end of a major relationship can change one's original level of contentment.
  • Negative events are often more significant than positive ones.
  • Consuming certain medication may also alter the set level of happiness in a person who has mental illness or other clinical problems.

Elements of Hedonic Adaptation

  • Shifting adaptation levels: When an individual experiences a slight emotional up or down, and then returns to his or her default level of happiness.
  • Desensitization: When an individual becomes desensitized to a circumstance or situation they no longer have the same reactions that another person might experience. 
  • Sensitization: When an individual is sensitized to a certain situation, they get used to something that they were not previously accustomed to. 

Hedonic Adaptation

... also referred to as hedonic treadmill, is defined as "the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes"  - Positive Psychology Program.

After a while, people become used to changes in their lives. The enjoyment or unhappiness that follows certain life events gradually wears off, returning each person to their "default" emotional state.

Reasonings behind hedonic adaptation

People become used to whatever changes are causing their increase in happiness. Over time, the initial excitement of the thing that happened wears off with a return to the "set level of happiness."

Someone who undergoes a positive experience with desirable offshoots can shift their levels of expectation. It then becomes their new normal.

Combating Hedonic Adaptation

The process of hedonic adaptation can be minimized, if not eliminated.

  • Uneventful everyday routines are the ultimate breeding ground for hedonic adaptation. Variety can help maintain and even increase the excitement and joy that accompanies positive life experiences.
  • Gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in one's life can also combat hedonic adaptation.

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