Ed Diener, Who Studied Happiness, Dies

This is a photo of Ed and Carol Diener.

Ed Diener, a psychological scientist whose seminal research examined the factors that influence people’s life satisfaction and happiness, died April 27. The founding editor of APS’s Perspectives on Psychological Science journal, he received the APS William James Fellow Award in 2013 and had served as a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and the University of Utah, Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois, and senior scientist for the Gallup Organization. 

With 400 publications and a citation count exceeding 250,000, Diener (in photo with his wife, Carol) was one of the most highly cited scientists in the world. He also wrote or co-authored nearly three dozen articles or editorials in APS journals (see the full list below). Nicknamed “Dr. Happiness,” he was chiefly responsible for coining and conceptualizing the term “subjective well-being” and hypothesized that human beings possess a genetic basis for “positive affect” that we generally return to, even after horrible events.

Yet despite his scholarly pursuits and professional laurels, Diener was equally known for his generosity toward students and other scholars—he mentored hundreds and received several teaching awards. Along with his wife and fellow psychologist Carol, Diener also created the Noba project to provide students with online access to free, high-quality textbooks and other educational materials, relieving a significant financial burden for students around the world. And his enthusiastic embrace of new challenges extended to launching Perspectives in 2006. “We plan to appeal to the entire scientific psychology community—everyone who wants to keep up with the cutting edge work that is being done across all fields of psychology,” he told APS in 2004.  

“The thoughts of everyone at APS are with Ed’s family and friends. His contributions to APS and to science more generally are an incredible legacy,” said APS Executive Director Robert Gropp. “People around the world continue to benefit from his scholarship and that of the many scientists he mentored.”

Ed Diener’s Research in APS Journals 

Psychological Science 

Perspectives on Psychological Science 

Psychological Science in the Public Interest 

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