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PLoS One. 2016 Jun 07;11(6):e0156415. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156415. eCollection 2016.

More Questions than Answers: Continued Critical Reanalysis of Fredrickson et al.'s Studies of Genomics and Well-Being.

PloS one

Nicholas J L Brown, Douglas A MacDonald, Manoj P Samanta, Harris L Friedman, James C Coyne


  1. University Medical Center, Groningen, The Netherlands.
  2. University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Michigan, United States of America.
  3. Systemix Institute, Redmond, Washington, United States of America.
  4. Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont, United States of America.
  5. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.

PMID: 27270924 PMCID: PMC4896417 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156415


We critically re-examine Fredrickson et al.'s renewed claims concerning the differential relationship between hedonic and eudaimonic forms of well-being and gene expression, namely that people who experience a preponderance of eudaimonic well-being have gene expression profiles that are associated with more favorable health outcomes. By means of an extensive reanalysis of their data, we identify several discrepancies between what these authors claimed and what their data support; we further show that their different analysis models produce mutually contradictory results. We then show how Fredrickson et al.'s most recent article on this topic not only fails to adequately address our previously published concerns about their earlier related work, but also introduces significant further problems, including inconsistency in their hypotheses. Additionally, we demonstrate that regardless of which statistical model is used to analyze their data, Fredrickson et al.'s method can be highly sensitive to the inclusion (or exclusion) of data from a single subject. We reiterate our previous conclusions, namely that there is no evidence that Fredrickson et al. have established a reliable empirical distinction between their two delineated forms of well-being, nor that eudaimonic well-being provides any overall health benefits over hedonic well-being.


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