"Hedonic treadmill" -- not in OED

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue May 27 23:25:22 UTC 2014

"It was one of the first studies testing the theory that we're all
stuck on a 'hedonic treadmill,' a term coined by the paper's lead
author, Philip Brickman, for the idea that good or bad events don't
permanently affect our levels of happiness."

New York Times, May 27, 2014, "Science Times," D5/1.

The "paper" is "an influential paper in 1978 reporting that lottery
winners were not any happier than their neighbors or more optimistic
about the future."  The NYT article does not identify the source for
Brickman's article.

A very superficial search, into just GBooks for "before Dec. 31,
1985" yields just one quotation:

"Mar 15, 1981 - a "hedonic treadmill," a world in which generation
after generation thinks it needs only another 10 or 20 percent more
income to be perfectly happy. This will be, moreover, a monocultural
world, East and West, cap- italist and communist, for the
..."  Apparently from Richard A. Easterlin, "Why Isn't the Whole
World Developed?'" Journal of Economic History, Vol. 41, No. 1 (March
1981), p. 1 & ff.  [Just three years after the putative coining, this
usage seems to vary from the original, at least as it is explained by the NYT.]


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