Eudaimonic and Hedonic Orientations: Theoretical Considerations and Research Findings

  • Veronika HutaEmail author
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


This chapter summarizes the work of Veronika Huta and of researchers who have used her measure of eudaimonic and hedonic orientations, the HEMA (Hedonic and Eudaimonic Motives for Activities). Huta and Waterman (2014) classified definitions of eudaimonia and hedonia into four categories – orientations (priorities, values, motives, goals), behaviors, experiences (affect, appraisals), and functioning (abilities, accomplishments, healthy habits). This chapter reports preliminary analyses showing that hedonic experiences (e.g., positive affect, carefreeness) formed a separate factor from eudaimonic experiences (e.g., feelings of meaning/value, accomplishment, interest); eudaimonic and hedonic orientations also formed distinct factors. Recently, Huta developed an expanded characterization of eudaimonia and hedonia in all four definition categories, including the cell that has heretofore been neglected – healthy hedonic functioning – to complement Ryff’s (1985) theory of eudaimonic functioning. In the recently updated HEMA, eudaimonia is defined as an orientation towards four elements: authenticity, meaning/broad concerns, excellence/morality, and growth/maturity; hedonia is defined as an orientation toward pleasure/satisfaction and comfort/ease. HEMA eudaimonic and hedonic orientations have correlated with somewhat different niches of personal well-being experience, need satisfaction, health behavior, and functioning; the combination of eudaimonic and hedonic orientations has related to higher scores on well-being than either pursuit alone. Eudaimonic pursuits have been linked with more positive contributions to others, society, and the environment. Only a eudaimonic orientation has related to abstract thinking and future time perspective. Finally, only eudaimonia has related to having parents who were responsive and demanding. The chapter concludes with philosophical thoughts on why eudaimonia and hedonia are both good, and how one pursuit is higher while the other is more fundamental.


Wellbeing Eudaimonia Hedonia 


  1. Anić, P. (2014). Hedonic and eudaimonic motives for favourite leisure activities. Primenjena Psihologija, 7, 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Annas, J. (2008). Virtue ethics and the charge of egoism. In P. Bloomfield (Ed.), Morality and self-interest (pp. 205–221). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Asano, R., Igarashi, T., & Tsukamoto, S. (2014). Hedonic and eudaimonic motives for activities (HEMA) in Japan: The pursuit of well-being. Japanese Journal of Psychology, 85, 69–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Battista, J., & Almond, R. (1973). The development of meaning in life. Psychiatry, 36, 409–427.Google Scholar
  5. Behzadnia, B. (2015). The role of eudaimonic and hedonic motivation in physical education: Findings from Iran. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  6. Besenski, L. J. (2009). Health-enhancing physical activity and eudaimonic well-being. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.Google Scholar
  7. Biswas-Diener, R., Kashdan, T., & King, L. (2009). Two traditions of happiness research, not two distinct types of happiness. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 208–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bradburn, N. M. (1969). The structure of psychological well-being. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bujacz, A., Vittersø, J., Huta, V., & Kaczmarek, L. D. (2014a). Measuring eudaimonia and hedonia as motives for activities: Cross-national investigation through traditional and Bayesian Structural Equation Modeling. Frontiers in Psychology, Special Issue: Frontiers in Quantitative Psychology and Measurement, 5, 984.Google Scholar
  11. Bujacz, A., Dunne, S., Fink, D., Gatej, A. R., Karlsson, E., Ruberti, V., et al. (2014b). Does creativity make you happy? The influence of creative activity on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Journal of European Psychology Students, 5, 19–23. DOI:
  12. Crumbaugh, J. C., & Maholick, L. T. (1964). An experimental study in existentialism: The psychometric approach to Frankl’s concept of noogenic neurosis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 20, 200–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975). Beyond boredom and anxiety. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  14. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19, 109–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Delle Fave, A., & Massimini, F. (1988). Modernization and the changing context of flow in work and leisure. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 193–213). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diener, E., & Emmons, R. A. (1984). The independence of positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1105–1117. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.47.5.1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Diener, E., Wirtz, D., Tov, W., Kim-Prieto, C., Choi, D., Oishi, S., et al. (2009). New well-being measures: Short scales to assess flourishing and positive and negative feelings. Social Indicators Research, 39, 247–266. doi: 10.1007/s11205-009-9493-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ferguson, L. J., Kowalski, K. C., Mack, D. E., Wilson, P. M., & Crocker, P. R. E. (2012). Women’s health-enhancing physical activity and eudaimonic well-being. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83, 451–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fowers, B. J., Molica, C. O., & Procacci, E. N. (2010). Constitutive and instrumental goal orientations and their relations with eudaimonic and hedonic well-being. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 139–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gagné, M. (2003). The role of autonomy support and autonomy orientation in prosocial behavior engagement. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 199–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Godin, G., & Shepard, R. J. (1985). A simple method to assess exercise behavior in the community. Canadian Journal of Applied Sport Sciences, 10, 141–146.Google Scholar
  23. Grouzet, F. M. E., Kasser, T., Ahuvia, A., Dols, J. M. F., Kim, Y., Lau, S., et al. (2005). The structure of goal contents across 15 cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 800–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Henderson, L. W., Knight, T., & Richardson, B. (2013a). An exploration of the well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic behavior. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8, 322–336. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2013.803596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Henderson, L. W., Knight, T., & Richardson, B. (2013b). The hedonic and eudaimonic validity of the orientations to happiness scale. Social Indicators Research, 115, 1087–1099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huta, V. (2012). Linking peoples’ pursuit of eudaimonia and hedonia with characteristics of their parents: Parenting styles, verbally endorsed values, and role modeling. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 47–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huta, V. (2013). Pursuing eudaimonia versus hedonia: Distinctions, similarities, and relationships. In A. S. Waterman (Ed.), The best within us: Positive psychology perspectives on eudaimonia (pp. 139–158). Washington, DC: APA Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huta, V. (2015a). The inter-relationships of different measures of eudaimonia and hedonia. Data collection is ongoing; analyses are based on the first 677 participants after data cleaning.Google Scholar
  29. Huta, V. (2015b). Chapter 10: The complementary roles of eudaimonia and hedonia and how they can be pursued in practice. In S. Joseph (Ed.), Positive psychology in practice: Promoting human flourishing in work, health, education, and everyday life (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  30. Huta, V. (2015c). Chapter 2: An overview of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being concepts. In L. Reinecke & M. B. Oliver (Eds.), Handbook of media use and well-being. New York: Routledge. Manuscript accepted for publication.Google Scholar
  31. Huta, V. (2015d, June). Introduction to symposium. In V. Huta (Chair), Advances in research on eudaimonia. Symposium conducted at Fourth World Congress on Positive Psychology, Orlando, FL.Google Scholar
  32. Huta, V., Pelletier, L., Baxter, D., & Thompson, A. (2012). How eudaimonic and hedonic motives relate to the well-being of close others. Journal of Positive Psychology, 7, 399–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Huta, V., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Pursuing pleasure or virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 735–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Huta, V., & Waterman, A. S. (2014). Eudaimonia and its distinction from hedonia: Developing a classification and terminology for understanding conceptual and operational definitions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, 1425–1456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jones, A., & Crandall, R. (1986). Validation of a short index of self-actualization. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 12, 63–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kashdan, T., Biswas-Diener, R., & King, L. (2008). Reconsidering happiness: The costs of distinguishing between hedonics and eudaimonia. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 219–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kern, M. L., & Butler, J. (June, 2013). The PERMA-Profiler: A brief multidimensional measure of flourishing. Poster presented at the Third World Congress on Positive Psychology, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  38. Keyes, C. L. M. (1998). Social well-being. Social Psychology Quarterly, 61, 121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 207–222. doi: 10.2307/3090197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the depression anxiety stress scale (DASS) with the beck depression and anxiety inventories. Behavior Research and Therapy, 33, 335–343. doi: 10.1016/00005-7967(94)000075-u.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mack, D. E., Gunnell, K. E., Wilson, P. M., Gilchrist, J. D., Kowalski, K. C., Crocker, P. R. E., et al. (2011). Physical activity in individuals living with osteopenia: Association with psychological need satisfaction and motives for well-being. International Journal of Physical Education and Sports Science, 06, 26–41.Google Scholar
  42. Myskiw, K. (2014, July). Eudaimonic and hedonic motives in relation to health behaviors. In V. Huta (Chair), Research findings to date on hedonic and eudaimonic motivation. Symposium conducted at the Second Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology, Ottawa, Ontario.Google Scholar
  43. Pearce, K., Huta, V., Voloaca, M. (2015). How eudaimonia and hedonia relate to thinking and contributing broadly: Seeing beyond the self, the present, and the concrete. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  44. Peterson, C., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: The full life versus the empty life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 25–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ramirez, S. A. (2013). An investigation of perceived organizational support from a self-determination theory perspective. Unpublished master’s thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.Google Scholar
  46. Robins, R. W., Hendin, H. M., & Trzesniewski, K. H. (2001). Measuring global self-esteem: Construct validation of a single-item measure and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 151–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ruch, W., Harzer, C., Proyer, R. T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2010). Ways to happiness in German-speaking countries: The adaptation of the German version of the orientations to happiness questionnaire in paper-pencil and internet samples. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 26, 227–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ryan, R. M., & Frederick, C. (1997). On energy, personality, and health: Subjective vitality as a dynamic reflection of well‐being. Journal of Personality, 65, 529–565. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1997.tb00326.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Seligman, M. E. P., Railton, P., Baumeister, R. F., & Sripada, C. (2013). Navigating into the future or driven by the past. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8, 119–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sheldon, K. M., & Kasser, T. (1995). Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 531–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Steger, M. F., Frazier, P., Oishi, S., & Kaler, M. (2006). The meaning in life questionnaire: Assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53, 80–93. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.53.1.80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Steger, M. F., Kashdan, T. B., & Oishi, S. (2008). Being good by doing good: Daily eudaimonic activity and well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 22–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sumner, L. (1996). Welfare, happiness and ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Vittersø, J., Dyrdal, G. M., & Røysamb, E. (2005, June). Utilities and capabilities: A psychological account of the two concepts and their relations to the idea of a good life. Paper presented at Workshop on Capabilities and Happiness, Bicocca, Italy.Google Scholar
  57. Vittersø, J., Oelmann, H. I., & Wang, A. L. (2009). Life satisfaction is not a balanced estimator of the good life: Evidence from reaction-time measures and self-reported emotions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Waterman, A. S. (1981). Individualism and interdependence. American Psychologist, 36, 762–773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Waterman, A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 678–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Waterman, A. S. (2007). Doing well: The relationship of identity status to three conceptions of well-being. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 7, 289–307. doi: 10.1080/15283480701600769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Waterman, A. S., Schwartz, S. J., Zamboanga, B. L., Ravert, R. D., Williams, M. K., Agocha, V. B., et al. (2010). The questionnaire for eudaimonic well-being: Psychometric properties, demographic comparisons, and evidence of validity. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 41–61. doi: 10.1080/17439760903435208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 1063–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wendel-Vos, G. C., Schuit, A. J., Saris, W. H., & Kromhout, D. (2003). Reproducibility and relative validity of the short questionnaire to assess health-enhancing physical activity. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 56, 1163–1169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OttawaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations