International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

A Preliminary Exploration of How Worldviews Relate to Eudaimonic and Hedonic Orientations

Arthur Braaten, B.A.

Ph.D. Candidate, University of Ottawa

Veronika Huta, Ph.D

Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa


The eudaimonic orientation (seeking authenticity, meaning, excellence, growth) and hedonic orientation (seeking pleasure, comfort) are two of the primary ways in which people define and pursue a good life (Huta & Waterman, 2014). Research has shown that eudaimonic and hedonic orientations have substantial but different impacts on people’s lives: the two orientations relate to somewhat different aspects of personal well-being; and a eudaimonic orientation relates much more to promoting the well-being of other people, while a hedonic orientation occasionally relates to having a negative impact on others. Thus, it is important to understand what leads people to pursue a eudaimonic or hedonic orientation (or both) in the first place. We expected worldviews, which are an individual’s fundamental beliefs about how things work and what is true and real, to be pivotal in predicting eudaimonic and hedonic orientations. Koltko-Rivera (2004) compiled the most comprehensive list of worldviews to date. We created a survey of worldviews that was predominantly based on Koltko-Rivera’s (2004) review and to which we added some further concepts. In an exploratory study containing a single item per worldview, we compared eudaimonic and hedonic orientations in terms of their correlations with worldviews in a sample of 749 undergraduates. We report results that appeared with some consistency across similar themes, providing preliminary insight into the different patterns of worldviews that may shape hedonic versus eudaimonic orientations. Overall, a eudaimonic orientation related to more worldviews than a hedonic orientation. A eudaimonic orientation was more related to beliefs that there is greater purpose to people and the universe, that the purpose of life is excellence and contribution, that there is a spiritual dimension to life, and that people can impact the world directly, as well as a belief in moral absolutism. In contrast, hedonia had stronger relationships with moral relativism and fatalistic beliefs about the outcomes in people’s lives.

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