Some Benefits of Being an Activist: Measuring Activism and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being



Do activists lead happier and more fulfilled lives than the average person? Two online surveys using a sample of college students (N = 341) and a national sample of activists matched with a control group (N = 718) demonstrated that several indicators of activism were positively associated with measures of hedonic, eudaimonic, and social well-being. Furthermore, in both studies, activists were more likely to be “flourishing” (Keyes, 2002) than were nonactivists. A third study of college students (N = 296) explored the possible causal role of activism by measuring well-being after subjects either engaged in a brief activist behavior, a brief nonactivist behavior, or no behavior. Although well-being did not differ substantially between these three groups, the subjects who did the brief activist behavior reported significantly higher levels of subjective vitality than did the subjects who engaged in the nonactivist behavior. Potential mediators of the relationship between activism and well-being and the usefulness of these findings are discussed.