About Sonja Lyubomirsky


=== pronounce my name ===

Distinguished Professor, University of California, Riverside
Ph.D. Stanford University, 1994

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and author of The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness (published in 39 countries). She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford University. Lyubomirsky’s research—on the possibility of lastingly increasing happiness via gratitude, kindness, and connection interventions—has been the recipient of many grants and honors, including an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Basel, the Diener Award for Outstanding Midcareer Contributions in Personality Psychology, the Christopher J. Peterson Gold Medal, the Distinguished Research Lecturer Award, and a Positive Psychology Prize. She lives in Santa Monica, California (USA), with her family.

Research Areas

Why Some Happier?

I have always been struck by the capacity of some individuals to be remarkably happy, even in the face of stress, trauma, or adversity. Thus, my earlier research efforts had focused on trying to understand why some people are happier than others (for a review and theoretical framework, see Lyubomirsky, 2001).

Benefits of Happiness

Is happiness a good thing? Or, does it just simply feel good? A review of all the available literature has revealed that happiness does indeed have numerous positive byproducts, which appear to benefit not only individuals, but families, communities, and the society at large (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005; see also Walsh, Boehm, & Lyubomirsky, 2018; Walsh, Boz, & Lyubomirsky, 2023).

Happiness Interventions

A vibrant and continuing program of research is asking the question, “How can happiness be reliably increased?” (for reviews, see Layous & Lyubomirsky, 2024 (forthcoming in Handbook of Social Psychology)Layous & Lyubomirsky, 2014; Lyubomirsky, 2008; Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2013; Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade, 2005; Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009).

Hedonic Adaptation

Finally, a line of research focuses on hedonic adaptation to positive experience as a critical barrier to raising happiness (Bao & Lyubomirsky, 2013; Lyubomirsky, 2010; Sheldon et al., 2012; Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2012). After all, if people become accustomed to (and take for granted) anything positive that happens to them, then how can they ever become happier?

The Science of Happiness

The Science of Social Connection

Ph.D. Students

Stephen Cadieux

Graduate Student

Tanya Vannoy

Graduate Student

James Chinn

Graduate Student

Recent Media Appearances

  • FILM

    • Mission Joy: Finding Happiness in Troubled Times; available on Netflix, Amazon Video, etc.


    • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson, “Sex, Drugs, and Money Might Actually Make You Happier”; click here to listen.

    • The Psychology Podcast, Scott Barry Kaufman, “The How of Happiness”; click here to listen.

Subjective Happiness Scale

  • Permission is granted for all non-commercial use, including scholarly/academic.
  • A PDF of the scale can be downloaded here.
  • Available from the first author in the following translations: Bulgarian, Chinese, Croation, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Persian, Peruvian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Scandinavian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Spanish (European), Spanish (Mexican), Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Urdu.
  • To score the scale, reverse code the 4th item (i.e., turn a 7 into a 1, a 6 into a 2, a 5 into a 3, a 3 into a 5, a 2 into a 6, and a 1 into a 7), and compute the mean of the 4 items.  Norms are available in the reference below, as well as in many other publications that have used the scale (see PsycInfo).
  • Please cite the following scale validation paper in all work mentioning the scale.
Download the Scale


My two books are below (with a third one on the way!).  All the publications and scholarly papers can be downloaded for free (links provided).
The How of Happiness
The Myths of Happiness