Oishi, S., & Westgate, E. (2021). A psychologically rich life: Beyond happiness and meaning. Psychological Review, Online First, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000317.
Psychological science has typically conceptualized a good life in terms of either hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. We propose that psychological richness is another, neglected aspect of what people consider a good life. Unlike happy or meaningful lives, psychologically rich lives are best characterized by a variety of interesting and perspective-changing experiences. We present empirical evidence that happiness, meaning, and psychological richness are related but distinct and desirable aspects of a good life, with unique causes and correlates. In doing so, we show that a nontrivial number of people around the world report they would choose a psychologically rich life at the expense of a happy or meaningful life, and that approximately a third say that undoing their life’s biggest regret would have made their lives psychologically richer. Furthermore, we propose that the predictors of a psychologically rich life are different from those of a happy life or a meaningful life, and report evidence suggesting that people leading psychologically rich lives tend to be more curious, think more holistically, and lean more politically liberal. Together, this work moves us beyond the dichotomy of hedonic versus eudaimonic well-being, and lays the foundation for the study of psychological richness as another dimension of a good life.