Brian Hass and Michelle vanDennen, associate professors in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ psychology department, were quoted in an article on fastcompany.com. The article discussed Americans’ obsession with reinventing themselves and whether or not it is a good thing.
The article references a new study from the university that found reinvention is often a bad idea because people who reinvent themselves often become less happy.
“In American culture there is a notion that we have a lot of freedom, and that you can reinvent yourself, and that’s a positive thing,” said Haas. “But are you better off? Are you happier than people who do not change? We found that it’s not the case.”
The research examined personality data from people in the U.S. and Japan. Oddly enough, well-being in America plummeted but not in Japan.
The reason has to do with social webs and American individualism that separates people from their friends, family and hometown.
“That sense of freedom might mean we don’t need to keep those relationships in check, and that’s likely what is contributing to this effect,” said vanDellen. “Americans do not need to be adaptable because we can just start new relationships or opt out of them easily.”