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Redefining Success in AmericaA New Theory of Happiness and Human Development$
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Michael Kaufman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226550015

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226550299.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 June 2020

Brightness and Darkness

Brightness and Darkness

(p.15) Chapter 2 Brightness and Darkness
Redefining Success in America

Michael B. Kaufman

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 2 shows broad forces beyond competitive success in education and career that shape a person’s well-being, as revealed early in the mixed-methods longitudinal study featured in the book. Clinical life history interviews conducted in college and in late midlife show general patterns of how participants feel about themselves and their lives. These patterns subsume feelings participants have in discrete situations, roles, and areas, including their careers. The chapter captures this phenomenon by introducing a new construct of well-being called intrapsychic brightness and darkness, which is the central tendency of affect appearing in a narrative life history at a given time. Grounded theory analyses of the study’s interviews reveal two ends of a spectrum in this construct, described in the chapter and illustrated with short psychobiographies. Many participants show remarkable stability from college to late midlife in their intrapsychic brightness and darkness, in spite of tremendous change in life circumstances. These discoveries and the effort to explain them shaped the book’s investigation of human development and happiness.

Keywords:   well-being, success, education, career, intrapsychic brightness and darkness, human development, grounded theory, psychobiography, narrative, midlife

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