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MEDITATION AS AN ADJUNCT TO A

HAPPINESS ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM


W . PAUL SMITH, WILLIAM C. COMPTON AND W . BERYL WEST
Middle Tennessee State University

This study investigated the impact that meditation has on Fordyces (1977,
1983) Personal Happiness Enhancement Program (PHEP). Experimental
subjects were divided into two groups, both of which received instruction
on the PHEP. Subjects in one experimental group were taught a medita-
tion exercise in addition to the PHEP. A control group received no instruc-
tion. The Happiness Measure, Psychap Inventory, Beck Depression Inven-
tory, and State-Trait Anxiety Scale were dependent measures. The three
(groups) X two (pre-post) mixed ANOVAs with Student Newman-Keuls
found that the meditation plus PHEP group significantly improved on all
dependent measures over both the PHEP only group and the control group.
The PHEP only group improved significantly over the control group on all
measures except state anxiety.

In the past 25 years the study of happiness and life satisfaction, or subjective well-
being, has increased exponentially (Argyle, 1987; Campbell, 1981; Diener, 1984; Wilson,
1967). This body of research consistently has found personality factors to be more im-
porttant than situational factors in the prediction of happiness. The most important per-
sonality factors include: extraversion (Costa, McCrae, & Norris, 1981), internal locus
of control (Glasser, 1984; Larson, 1989), positive self-esteem (Campbell, 1981), optimism
(Scheier & Carver, 1992), and the ability to form close relationships (Argyle & Martin,
1991).
A few researchers recently have begun to develop training programs for the enhance-
ment of happiness. Lichter, Haye, and Kammann (1 980) taught subjects positive alter-
natives to irrational beliefs. They found significant changes in both positive mood and
life satisfaction after 4 weeks of training. Fordyce (1972, 1977, 1983) has developed a
packaged training program for the enhancement of happiness that focuses on both cogni-
tions and behaviors. Fordyce summarized the literature on subjective well-being in his
14 fundamentals of happiness: (1) be more active and keep busy; (2) spend more time
socializing; (3) be productive at meaningful work; (4) get better organized and plan things
out; ( 5 ) stop worrying; (6) lower your expectations and aspirations; (7) develop positive
and optimistic thinking; (8) get present oriented; (9) work on a healthy personality; (10)
develop an outgoing social personality; (1 1) be yourself; (12) eliminate negative feelings
and problems; (13) develop close interpersonal relationships; and (14) put happiness
as your number one goal. Fordyce (1977, 1983) has found that his Personal Happiness
Enhancement Program (PHEP) can improve significantly scores on scales that measure
happiness. In one study, he found that 81 070 of participants in a group training on PHEP
experienced significant gains in happiness (Fordyce, 1983).
Meditation also has been used as a method of increasing well-being and has been
practiced for centuries (Walsh, 1981). Recent research has found meditation to be effective

This study was completed in partial fulfillment of a Masters degree in clinical psychology by the first
author at Middle Tennessee State University. Appreciation is extended to Dr. Barbara C. Whiteman for her
help with earlier drafts of this project.
R.eprint requests should be addressed to the second author at the Department of Psychology, P.O. Box
87, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132.

269
270 Journal of Clinical Psychology, March 1995, Vol. 51, No. 2

for stress management (Sawada & Steptoe, 1988), increasing internal locus of control
(Marlatt, Pagano, Rose, & Marques, 1984), decreasing anxiety (Delmonte, 1985), and
increasing self-actualization (Alexander, Rainforth, & Gelderloos, 1991). The literature,
therefore, has suggested that meditation could be a useful adjunct to Fordyces PHEP,
both by facilitating changes on variables impacted by both techniques (e.g., internal
locus of control) and by adding new benefits to the PHEP, such as anxiety reduction.
It was hypothesized that: (1) a group that learned meditation in addition to the
PHEP would show significant changes in happiness, anxiety, and depression over a
PHEP-only group as well as (2) over a control group and that (3) a PHEP-only group
would show significant changes in happiness, anxiety, and depression over a control
group.
METHOD
Subjects
Subjects were 36 undergraduate volunteers (25 women and 11 men). Subjects
reported one of four age ranges as follows: 20 subjects (55.6%) were 18 to 25 years
old, 9 (25%) were 26 to 35 years old, 4 (11.1070) were 36 to 45 years old, and 3 (8.3%)
were over 45 years. Twenty-five subjects never had married, 5 were divorced, and 6 were
married.
Measures
The HappinessMeasure (HM; Fordyce, 1988) is a measure that combines both the
frequency and the intensity of happiness. Fordyce (1988) reported test-retest reliability
coefficients between .98 and .81 for up to 1 month and .62 for 4 months. Correlations
between the HM and other related personality inventories are significant in the expected
directions. After a review of a number of happiness measures Fordyce (1988) stated,
The HM was found to be among the strongest in convergent validity of all measures,
and the very strongest of the single-item measures (p. 364).
The Psychap Inventory (PHI; Fordyce, 1986) is an 80-item questionnaire that was
designed to provide an objective measure of happiness based on Fordyces theory of
happiness. In more than 20 studies, reliability coefficients of the Psychap Inventory have
ranged from .95 for test-retest periods of 1 week to .74 for 3 months. Convergent validity
appears to be strong (Fordyce, 1988).
The State-TraitAnxiety Inventory (STAI; Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970)
consists of two separate scales for measuring anxiety. The State Anxiety Scale (STATE)
assesses the intensity of feelings of nervousness, tension, apprehension, and worry that
the examinee currently is egperiencing. The Trait Anxiety Scale (TRAIT) is thelevel
of worry, tension, nervousness, and apprehension that the person normally experiences.
Test-retest reliability coefficients for the STATE scale ranged from .16 (1 hour) to .33
(104 days). Spielberger et al. (1970) reported that the low reliability coefficients for the
STATE scale would be expected due to the influence of situational factors. Test-retest
reliability for the TRAIT scale with college undergraduates ranged from .76 (1 hour)
to .77 (104 days). The validity of the STAI is also strong (Spielberger et al., 1970).
The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck, 1987) consists of 21 multiple-choice
items that measure depression. Average internal consistency coefficients are reported
to be .86 for a meta-analysis of nine psychiatric samples and .81 for nonpsychiatric
samples (Beck, 1987). Test-retest reliability is reported to range from .48 to .86 for
psychiatric patients and .60 to .90 for nonpsychiatric subjects (Beck, 1987).
The Frequency of Practice Log was designed by the first author and is a simple
checklist on which the subject rates the amount of time he or she practiced each of the
14 fundamentals. This provided a behavioral rating of program participation. In addition,
Meditation 27 1

the Meditation plus PHEP group reported the number of items they practiced medita-
tion each week.
Procedure
Demographic data sheets and pretests were administered to all subjects prior to
PHE:P and meditation instruction. Subjects whose schedules did not conflict with the
weekly instruction times were assigned randomly to either the Meditation plus PHEP
instruction group (MEDP) or the PHEP instruction only group (PHEP). Subjects whose
schedules did conflict with the weekly instruction times were assigned to the control group
(CTIRL). Fordyces Personal Happiness Enhancement Program (1977, 1983) was used
as the basic instructional material for both the MEDP and PHEP groups. The CTRL
group received no instruction, but completed all instruments as pre- and posttests. Par-
ticipants in both experimental groups were instructed in the PHEP and also taught prac-
tical methods for applying the 14 fundamentals. Groups met together for 12 sessions
of 1 L/2 hours each over a period of 6 weeks. Subjects in the MEDP group attended a
separate session and were taught a concentrative form of meditation (Goleman, 1977)
that used the word Peace as a focus of meditation. In all other aspects, the technique
was identical to Bensons (1975) Relaxation Response. In the last session, posttests were
administered to all subjects.

RESULTS
Analyses of the Frequency of Practice Log indicated that some subjects in the MEDP
group meditated as little as once per week. Delmonte (1985) presented evidence that
those who practice meditation less than three times a week receive little or no benefit
from it. Therefore, the MEDP group was divided into two subgroups: one for subjects
who practiced less than three times per week and one for those who practiced medita-
tion three or more times per week. t-tests between the PHEP only group and the low
meditation subgroup on pre-post change scores were nonsignificant for all measures.
Therefore, the PHEP only group and the low meditation subgroup were combined into
a single group and compared with the high meditation subgroup (MEDP).
One-way ANOVAs on the pretest scores were not significant for any of the dependent
measures, an indication that the three groups were not significantly different at pretest
on happiness, anxiety, or depression. The three (groups) x two (pre-post) mixed
ANOVAs were significant for all dependent measures (Table 1). Student Newman-Keuls
was used for all post-hoc tests between cell means.
Significant differences in the expected directions were found between the MEDP
group and the PHEP only group on all dependent measures, which supports hypothesis
one (Table 1). Significant differences were found in the expected directions between the
MEDP and the CTRL groups on all dependent measures, which supports hypothesis
two. Significant differences were found in the expected directions between the PHEP
only group and the CTRL group on all dependent measures except STATE, which par-
tially supports hypothesis three.
All correlations between practice frequency of the 14 fundamentals and pre-post
change scores were significant for the PHEP group. For the MEDP group, only the
correlation between fundamentals practice and pre-post differences on HM was
significant.

DISCUSSION
The results of this initial study suggest that a program to enhance happiness and
decrease negative moods can be improved significantly by the addition of a simple form
of concentrative meditation. Although the samples were small, the mean differences were
272 Journal of Clinical Psychology, March 1995, Vol. 51, No. 2

Table 1
Means and Standard Deviations of Pre-post Diflerence Scores for Groups

Group
Variable CTRL PHEP MEDP F (2,351 Post-hoc

HM .33 9.88 29.29 17.15** 1, 2, 3


(3.94) (8.56) (18.77)
PHI - .25 15.53 24.86 19.25** 1, 2, 3
(2.05) (9.76) (13.83)
STATE - 2.83 - 8.53 - 19.71 7.86* 1, 3
(6.53) (8.98) (12.18)
TRAIT - .25 - 8.88 - 17.71 17.33** 1, 2, 3
(2.14) (7.51) (7.89)
BDI .17 - 4.47 - 9.57 14.06** 1, 2, 3
(1.90) (4.43) (5.00)

Note. -CTRL = control group ( n = 12); PHEP = Personal Happiness Enhancement Program only
group plus low meditation group (n = 17); MEDP = PHEP instruction plus meditation 3 or more times
per week (n = 7). HM = Happiness Measure; PHI = Psychap Inventory; STATE = State-Trait Anxiety
Inventory (State); TRAIT = STAI (Trait), BDI = Beck Depression Inventory.
Post-hoc: 1 = MEDP > CTRL, 2 = PHEP > CTRL, 3 = MEDP > PHEP (p < .05).
* p < .01. **p < ,001.

consistent with hypotheses and large enough t o be meaningful. The one caveat is that
the participants in the program must practice meditation at least three times per week
to show improvement over the P H E P alone.
The small samples are a problem for generalizability of the results, and, therefore,
replication of the study is necessary. In terms of hypothesis testing, however, because
alpha level is set by the experimenter, the small sample would have had its largest im-
pact on Type I1 errors. In this study only one null hypothesis was not rejected (Le.,
PHEP >CTRL on STATE). The small sample was most problematic for correlations
in the MEDP group. In addition, Comptom and Becker (1984) have suggested that be-
ginning meditation practice may be psychologically stressful for some people due to
the increasing awareness of internal states. This may have been true for one subject
in the MEDP group who had low change scores and high frequency scores. In this small
sample, those scores produced extreme outliers and significantly affected the correlations.
Further outcome research and process studies are obviously necessary on programs
to enhance happiness. Preliminary results from a handful of studies, however, are en-
couraging. These initial studies suggest that clinical psychology will be able to improve
and refine research-based programs that utilize relatively simple techniques for enhancing
happiness and well-being in the general population.

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