Political activists are happier!

Which way of life is the more desirable—to join with other citizens and share in the state’s activity, or to live in it like an alien, absolved from the ties of political society?

Aristotle, Politics (350 BC)

Research by psychologists Klar and Kasser recently published in the Political Psychology journal has found evidence that activists are happier than non-activists and that doing something politically engaged improved vitality levels compared with doing a similar, non-political task.

Klar and Kasser surveyed university students in two separate studies, and found that those that identified themselves as activists or were located via an activist network were happier and more fulfilled than non-activists. This of course doesn’t identify whether happy and fulfilled people become activists or if activism makes you happy and fulfilled.

Another experiment then split the sample (again university students) into those taking part in a politically engaged activity (writing to the cafeteria director asking for food to be sourced more ethically and locally) and a similar but non-political activity (writing to the cafeteria director asking for tastier and more varied food). It was found that those who wrote the political letter reported feeling more energised and alive afterwards than those that did not.

The full article can be downloaded from here.

And for your entertainment courtesy of 350.org – what the happy people got up to in 2009 – much more to come in 2010…