Academic journal article Education

Education and Capital Development: Capital as Durable Personal, Social, Economic and Political Influences on the Happiness of Individuals

Academic journal article Education

Education and Capital Development: Capital as Durable Personal, Social, Economic and Political Influences on the Happiness of Individuals

Article excerpt

The concept of economic capital embodies all tools to generate economic value. Prior to the development of economic markets, such tools were defined by their contribution to human survival. They consisted of physical tools used to amplify, supplement or replace human abilities in obtaining the necessities of life.

Economic capital has been generalized to include intellectual property and human skills developed through education and training that serve to enhance economic productivity. Even physical capital embodies technology generated by human intellectual resourcefulness and motivation. Human capital represents most of the value of economic capital in the developed economies of the world (Becker, 1997).

If formal education contributes to the development of human capital, it does so by enhancing value stored in the human neuromuscular systems. The elements of human capital consist of stored adaptive features of memory and the related capacity, within which formal and informal learning are indistinguishable as sources. Since such conserved progenitors of adaptation are not inherently confined to economic activities, a less restrictive concept of capital would have greater explanatory power as a predictor of human experiences.

A more comprehensive and universal result of human activity is the quest for psychological well-being or happiness. Capital, including non-economic, incorporates tools that can promote sustainable subjective well-being. These include products of learning and therefore could be a result of formal education. Hosen (1976a, 1976b, 1977, 1985) and Hosen and Stem (1974) were the first investigators to formally measure the contribution of educational inputs (converted into educational outcomes) to individual happiness. This has evolved into a concept of capital and investment as a dependent variable of SWB.

Generic Capital and Psychological Well-Being

This article offers a generic concept of capital that subsumes durable features of adaptive human decision-making. These may be in the domain of individual, social, economic and political activities, all of which affect each other but which have a common objective of enhancing human happiness. People differ in the degree to which they utilize capital in purposeful activity and in the types of capital used. These differences reflect individual preferences influenced both by personal values and by what is available. They also reflect differences in knowledge. But they share the ultimate objective of achieving high sustainable subjective well-being.

Purposeful Activity As Content

Purposeful activity includes all deliberate human functioning that adjusts to the continuous information generated by internal and environmental sources. Deliberate adjustments are guided by emotional and hedonic feedback from the biological mechanisms of reward and punishment common to all humans, as are the cognitive and emotional information systems that mediate the subjective hedonic states produced.

Cultural norms and other sources of personal values influence an individual's hedonic state by circumscribing goals, by restricting the means of attaining goals, and by affecting the interpretation of outcomes (Oishi, Diener, Lucas & Suh, 1999). Subject to these constraints, a universal preference for positive hedonic states remains. Thus purposeful behavior may differ descriptively or qualitatively, on average, between members of different cultures and between two individuals within a culture, without their differing in their preference for the highest attainable subjectively quantifiable hedonic state.

Quantifying Hedonic Consequences of Purposeful Activities

Hedonic states are subjective and intrinsically experienced. A positive state is one an individual would want more of if the opportunity cost were zero. A negative state is one an individual would willingly forego if there were no undesirable instrumental consequences (Hosen, Stern, Solovey-Hosen 2001). …

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