On the promotion of human flourishing

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Aug 1;114(31):8148-8156. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1702996114. Epub 2017 Jul 13.


Many empirical studies throughout the social and biomedical sciences focus only on very narrow outcomes such as income, or a single specific disease state, or a measure of positive affect. Human well-being or flourishing, however, consists in a much broader range of states and outcomes, certainly including mental and physical health, but also encompassing happiness and life satisfaction, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, and close social relationships. The empirical literature from longitudinal, experimental, and quasiexperimental studies is reviewed in attempt to identify major determinants of human flourishing, broadly conceived. Measures of human flourishing are proposed. Discussion is given to the implications of a broader conception of human flourishing, and of the research reviewed, for policy, and for future research in the biomedical and social sciences.

Keywords: family; flourishing; happiness; religion; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Marriage
  • Mental Health
  • Psychology / methods*
  • Public Health
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Religion
  • Surveys and Questionnaires