Contributors: Pyhälä, Aili, Dr. (University of Helsinki)
Aili Pyhälä (PhD in Development Studies) is currently a post-doc at the Ethnoecology Laboratory (UAB, Spain), and the Global Change and Conservation Group (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Scientific paper contribution: What have traditional hunter-gatherers got to say about happiness?
Keywords: happiness; wellbeing; indigenous peoples
Narrative step: Facing the current crisis
Abstract: The last few decades have witnessed a rapid increase in the number of studies addressing the concept of “happiness”. However, the existing literature is highly biased to a) income-related studies; b) modern, industrialized societies; and c) single case studies. There is scarce research on cross-cultural understandings of happiness, particularly from small-scale, preindustrial societies. This paper addresses these gaps by studying the perceptions of happiness and well-being in three indigenous hunter-gatherer societies, the Tsimane´ (Amazonia), the Baka (Congo Basin), and the Punan Tubu (Borneo). I compare individual self-reported happiness with: 1) individual health; 2) individual needs perceptions; 3) household income and wealth, and; 4) personality. I also compare self-reported happiness with demographic, cultural, and social characteristics. The data were obtained from 18-months of fieldwork in each site. The findings provide valuable contributions both to the scientific literature and the global discourse on happiness, as well as for policy makers, development agents, and researchers working with local or national wellbeing.