Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Dogmatism and Happiness

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Dogmatism and Happiness

Article excerpt

Introduction

Happiness is the fundamental factor in mental health. Achieving happiness was the earliest wishes of human being. Happiness points out to short-term effects and feelings and long-term well-being (1). In one point, happiness (regarded as subjective wellbeing in this article) is called as a heritable mood. In another point, happiness is seen as emotion and others see the happiness as cognitive evaluation. Therefore, it seems as a complex and controversial content. It includes positive emotions like; life satisfaction, optimism, sense of humor, forgiveness, tipsiness and so on. Philosophers and scientists describe several characteristics as critical criteria of pleasant life. They use several terms for happiness: eudemonia and virtues life, wellbeing, utopia, pleasant, high level of positive emotions, life satisfaction and so on.

Since appearance of positive psychology, happiness is studied as a major subject in scientific studies (2). The term "happiness" has many definitions. Each definition refers to a specific theory. Generally, all definitions divided into 4 categories: emotional-affective, cognitive, attitude and combined (3). The most common definition presented by Veenhoven; general judgment of a person about his/her quality of life as a whole (4).

Although there is no common construction for wellbeing, the similar basis can be traced in dif- ferent cultures. Wellbeing consists of two factors: cognitive factors (life satisfaction) and emotional factors (hedonic level) (5).

The important thing about wellbeing is its underlying factors. Which factors do increase happiness or subjective well-being? Positive psychology's researchers study various aspects of happiness and describe several indicating factors for happiness. A group of researchers believe that happiness results from genetic and heredity factors (6), another group believe that happiness results from earning high income (success in economic and job) (5), others believe that being able to live leads to happiness. Happiness is not the result of one or two factors; it is a combination of factors in a special way leading to happiness (5).

As a whole, indicating factors of happiness are divided into two groups: endogenic factors (genetic and biologic, cognitive, personality and ethical factors) and exogenic factors (behavioral, social, cultural, demographic, life event, geographic, political and economic factors) (2, 5).

Initial studies of wellbeing and happiness were focused more on exogenic (environmental) factors. Exogenic factors like; health, income, marriage, life events and so on, explain a little part of happiness. Studies conclude that since happiness is stable in time and after a major life event, it returns to base situation, happiness has a great significant correlation with endogenic factors like; personality traits (7,8).

A personality trait considered in relation with subjective wellbeing is the dogmatism. Dogmatism is a cognitive construction altered to a personality trait. Dogmatism has a significant negative influence on wellbeing. There is a negative relation between dogmatism and wellbeing (9).

Dogmatism is defined as avoidance from accepting others' beliefs, ideas and behaviors. Dogmatic individuals have many problems in understanding new ideas. They cannot accept reasonable ideas instead of their incorrect ideas. They do not cooperate with others with different ideas. They prefer to work with people like themselves. This group committed to their ideas without considering other possibilities (10, 11).

Dogma is a Greek word that means individual believe or idea. Individuals with open mind in acceptance of new ideas are without dogmatism and individuals with close mind present as dogmatism (12). An important theory about dogmatism was that dogmatism pointed to a cognitive network (13). Based on that, dogmatism can be attended in two levels.

"The first level, the isolation between and within belief and disbelief systems, is characterized by little differentiation within the disbelief system, isolation of parts within and between belief and disbelief systems, and high rejection of disbelief system. …

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