Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226550152 Published May 2019
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226550015 Published May 2019
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Redefining Success in America

A New Theory of Happiness and Human Development

Michael Kaufman

Redefining Success in America
See an online appendix for the book.

Michael Kaufman

304 pages | 18 line drawings, 32 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226550152 Published May 2019
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226550015 Published May 2019
E-book $10.00 to $35.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226550299 Published June 2019
Work hard in school, graduate from a top college, establish a high-paying professional career, enjoy the long-lasting reward of happiness. This is the American Dream—and yet basic questions at the heart of this competitive journey remain unanswered. Does competitive success, even rarified entry into the Ivy League and the top one percent of earners in America, deliver on its promise? Does realizing the American Dream deliver a good life? In Redefining Success in America, psychologist and human development scholar Michael Kaufman develops a fundamentally new understanding of how elite undergraduate educations and careers play out in lives, and of what shapes happiness among the prizewinners in America. In so doing, he exposes the myth at the heart of the American Dream.

Returning to the legendary Harvard Student Study of undergraduates from the 1960s and interviewing participants almost fifty years later, Kaufman shows that formative experiences in family, school, and community largely shape a future adult’s worldview and well-being by late adolescence, and that fundamental change in adulthood, when it occurs, is shaped by adult family experiences, not by ever-greater competitive success. Published research on general samples shows that these patterns, and the book’s findings generally, are broadly applicable to demographically varied populations in the United States.

Leveraging biography-length clinical interviews and quantitative evidence unmatched even by earlier landmark studies of human development, Redefining Success in America redefines the conversation about the nature and origins of happiness, and about how adults develop. This longitudinal study pioneers a new paradigm in happiness research, developmental science, and personality psychology that will appeal to scholars and students in the social sciences, psychotherapy professionals, and serious readers navigating the competitive journey.
1 The Study of Success and Happiness

Part 1 Patterns in Lives

2 Brightness and Darkness
3 The Varieties of Experience

Part 2 Observations and Longitudinal Models

4 The Qualitative Assessment of Well-Being: An Innovation in Happiness Research
5 The Stability Model
6 Stability Tested Quantitatively
7 The Change Model
8 Beyond Success: The Relationship between Career and Happiness

Part 3 Comparison and Summary

9 A Conventional Measure of Happiness: A Reexamination
10 A Paradigm for Understanding Adult Life
11 The Forces Shaping Our Well-Being

Appendix 1: Primary Psychobiographical Sketches
Appendix 2: Sample Selection and Participation
Appendix 3: Roster of Interviews
Appendix 4: Study’s Methods of Analysis
Appendix 5: Variables and Measures
Appendix 6: Aspects of Remembered Early Life Appearing in Interviews
Appendix 7: The Creation of Remembered Early Life Affect Scale

Review Quotes
Ed Diener, coauthor of "Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth"
“A must-read for anyone who wants to deeply understand psychological well-being.”
James W. Anderson, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
“Extraordinary, almost unbelievable, that Kaufman has been able to track down and study in depth subjects who were first investigated decades ago. Using his rare, longitudinal data, he develops a sophisticated understanding of happiness and life satisfaction. He shows why it is that financial success is not as central as it is often thought to be. Our culture, he argues convincingly, has sold to the younger generation a false promise that attending a prestigious college and attaining wealth is ‘a ticket to the good life.’ Redefining Success in America does just what the title promises; it provides an original and creative answer to the question: ‘What provides fulfillment?’”
Michael Shanahan, director of the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, University of Zurich
“A superb book, unique for its use of grounded theory in the study of life-span patterns and in its formulation of a new life-span theory of happiness. In these ways, Redefining Success in America makes fundamental contributions. The equal emphasis on stability and change is very rare and admirable in developmental science. . . . As a life-course sociologist, I enjoyed this book greatly.”
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