Of Diener, Diener, Diener and Biswas-Diener

(With due respect to the researchers mentioned in this post, whose knowledge and expertise are never under question- may their tribe increase to serve the pursuit of knowledge. Sarcasm is to be treated as such- with generous helpings of salt. Thang you.)

So, last week was Positive Psychology Bonanza Week. I mean, I had a make up quiz and in three days, I had the end term as well, so I was going around in a state of subjective ill being most of the time, chanting researchers’ names like the Rama Namam.

The book itself is marvellously witty for an academic book, with gems such as “Elder couples do it too, only less that when they were newly married!” and “Obviously there’s more to a hug than biology, but the biology is what makes it feel that way” and so on. One crack after another, plumb in the middle of research studies on either sides grimly giving me the gimlet eye.

But the real highlight of the book (outside of a cat on the cover fantasizing that it’s a lion, which is somehow supposed to suggest healthy subjective well being) is the rich plethora of fascinating research studies, about sixty three per page. The whole page is a seething, hissing mass of studies conducted, unsurprisingly, by a handful of men, most from the same family. Chief amongst these perpetrators is a chap without a social life called Diener. And half his family. Seventy percent of all studies in the book are by this jewel of his gender, who has never let an opportunity pass by to work with junta from all countries, Indians, Japs, Brits, Americans- everyone. Clearly an advocate of equal opportunity.

A typical paragraph goes thusly- “You might think, with the importance devoted to entertainment, that entertainment is one of the top three indicators of subjective well being. However, you might be surprised to learn that in a longitudinal study conducted by Diener, Diener and Diener(1996) in Kuawai in Hawaai”, yada yada. Immediately post this, a highly relevant conclusion of this nature pops up: “It has been conclusively thus proved that children whose parents go to bed at 7pm in the night attach less value to entertainment than children whose parents play strip poker for an hour before they retire to bed at nine-thirty.”

Well, not exactly that, but you get my drift, ijin’t it?

There is a study by Diener and Diener, one by Diener, Diener and Diener, one by Diener and Fujita, and finally, the icing on the cake is the one by Diener, Diener and Biswas-Diener. One of these positive psychology paragons has come all the way over to Bongland and married a Biswas as well, presumably in the best interests of research!

At this point, dear reader, I stop to ask you- how much is too much? I mean, what does this Diener khandaan do- wake up at six fifteen in the morning and collectively start researching? Imagine the scenario.

“Diener II?”

“Yeah, Diener I?”

“What’s up with Diener III?”

“Aaah, longitudinal study with Diener IV- you know, the usual.”

“And Biswas Diener?”

“With Baby Diener.”

“Which Diener’s baby Diener?”

“%^$&, who cares???”

A basic issue of sustainability here – ever increasing Dieners and everyone of them going to research positive psychology on the one hand; a decreasing field of positive psychology on the other- I mean, the more you study, the less there is left, right? Very soon, there’ll be nothing left.

Well, I’ve warned you, you, and you, Dieners. Ahn, ahn! No use pointing fingers in the end. Too bad. You brought it upon yourselves. This is why delayed gratification is so important. (As evidenced by a study conducted by Diener, Diener and Seligman, I think.)

And with that, I go back to strattttegically managing HR.

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