Happiness & Authenticity

Welcome to our page which is all about happiness and authenticity!

You may now wonder how: What do they mean with “Authenticity” in the first place, and how should that be related to how happy I am?

The following paragraphs, as well as a video, will help you to understand each concept better, and how the one may be related to the other. When we went to Schiermonnikoog, we chose to ponder on exactly that question you may have now:


Is there a relationship between authentic living and a person’s subjective well being?


According to the dictionary, one can define being authentic as possessing the quality of being real or true (Cambridge dictionary, n.d.). More precisely, it can be understood as living a life that aligns with how you see yourself. For instance, when you see yourself as being environmentally aware but you occasionally catch short distance flights, or take the car to buy your breakfast cereals in the supermarket nearby, the way you perceive yourself does not harmonize with your actions, hence, it shows unauthentic patterns. On the other hand, it may be that you see yourself as a reliable and punctual person. People can trust your commitment, and coming late is not an option for you, consequently you seem to act in an authentic way.



In the video we created, you will be presented with different statements that will lead you to better understand the personality traits you possess, “normally”. Furthermore, you will be asked to think about the content in the video, viewing it through the lens of this current crisis. Are there differences in the responses, have you developed new patterns and preferences, or did you recognize any changes in your happiness levels?



The main goal

of this environment is to reflect on you. Take notes, don’t rush, and feel free to pause the video at any time to slow down and let your thoughts wander.


Authenticity in Times of Corona

With half of the society locked up home against the spread of the coronavirus, it is important to look after the mental and psychosocial well-being of the population. Several tips the WHO (2020) gives are:

  • Try keeping up your daily personal routines, or create others that fit the current situation.
  • Stay connected with each other, if not physically, then via digital options.
  • Take care of yourself and pay attention to your needs and feelings.  

These tips are all related to staying true to yourself and not letting the current situation change you personally. In other words, try to stay authentic. Following Maslow (1968), authenticity is created when individuals discover their true inner self. This, by first satisfying the physiological needs and after that, satisfying their higher order psychological needs (their inner growth-oriented needs). The on authenticity focused tips of the WHO (2020) raises the question whether authenticity and subjective well-being are actually related with each other. 

Sheldon, Ryan, Rawsthorne and Ilardi (1997) and later on, Wood, Linley, Maltby, Baliousis and Joseph (2008) used the big five personality traits to test the relationship between authenticity and subjective well-being. These big five personality traits are: Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience. Sheldon, Ryan, Rawsthorne and Ilardi (1997) concluded that both psychological authenticity and self-consistency played vital roles in the organized functioning and health of human beings. In addition, Wood, Linley, Maltby, Baliousis and Joseph (2008) as well viewed authenticity as being integral to subjective well-being. Goldman and Kernis (2002) created a new multicomponent conceptualization of authenticity, this research found four components involved in specifying authenticity: Unbiased processing, Relational Orientation, Awareness and Behaviour. The results showed that higher scores on the Authenticity Inventory were positively related to life satisfaction and self-esteem levels.

The literature shows that:

There does exist a positive relationship between authenticity and subjective well-being.

This positive relationship has to be taken in mind in this stressful time of corona. Social media has enabled it for the society to keep in touch with each other, however, it is also the source of digital stress (Prabakaran, 2020). Through technological devices it has become extensively easier to stay up-to-date on every subject thinkable, thus also on the coronavirus. However, all this available information may create chaos in the human brain. This, because technological devices have made it easier to gain information, however, they have also made it harder to avoid this same information. The overflow of information may create digital stress (Prabakaran, 2020). The WHO (2020) also acknowledges that the constant stream of information about the corona outbreak can cause feelings of anxiety or distress. Therefore, they give the following advice, seek for information regarding the coronavirus during specific moments per day. In addition, only seek information from health professionals and the WHO website, instead of following rumours gained on social media channels, this will only cause uncomfortable feelings.



Authenticity. (n.d.) In Cambridge dictionary. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/de/worterbuch/englisch/authenticity


Goldman, B. M., & Kernis, M. H. (2002). The role of authenticity in healthy psychological functioning and subjective well-being. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 5, 18 –20.

Maslow, A.H. (1968) Toward a Psychology of Being. (2nd Ed.) Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand. 


Sheldon, K. M., Ryan, R. M., Rawsthorne, L. J., & Ilardi, B. (1997). Trait self and true self: Cross-role variation in the big-five personality traits and its relations with psychological authenticity and subjective wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1380 –1393.

WHO (18 March, 2020). Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf

Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Baliousis, M., & Joseph, S. (2008). The authentic personality: a theoretical and empirical conceptualization and the development of the authenticity scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55(3), 385–399.