6 November 2016

  • 75% of Australians connect with close ones (partner, family, and/or children) every day. Those who connect on a daily basis have significantly higher wellbeing scores than those who don’t.
  • Respondents who were heavily engaged in social media reported significantly higher levels of negative emotions and loneliness.
  • Older Australians aged 65+ have significantly higher levels of wellbeing and lower levels of loneliness and negative emotions than the rest of the population.
  • People age 25-34 scored significantly higher scores on loneliness than adults 35 years and over
  • Adolescent girls report significantly higher levels of connectedness than boys.

Relationships and strong community connections are the key to happiness for Australians, according to findings from the Australian Psychological Society’s (APS) Compass for Life survey, released today for Psychology Week (6-12 November).

In contrast, people who were constantly connected to social media, a platform designed to bring people closer together, reported greater loneliness and significantly higher levels of negative emotions.

The survey of 1,000 Australian adults and 518 adolescents (13-17) is part of the APS Compass for Life, campaign, which aims to arm people with strategies –Ways to Thrive – to enhance their own life satisfaction, happiness and psychological wellbeing.

All Australians can visit Compassforlife.org.au to measure and improve their wellbeing levels.

Overall, the survey found that Australians report a positive sense of wellbeing, with strong relationships being a feature of their lives and a key to their happiness.

APS Executive Director Professor Lyn Littlefield said, “We have many demands for our time and attention but the APS survey shows that people who invest in relationships at home, at work and in the community reap the wellbeing benefits.”

Key relationship findings:

  • Two-thirds of women (63%) and 47% of men were frequent users of social media.  Constant social media use was associated with higher scores for negative emotions and loneliness.
  • Three in ten Australians reported taking time to connect with work colleagues socially or informally, which was associated with higher wellbeing. 
  • Connections to community – belonging to a fitness club, actively contributing to your community, and having a sense of belonging - all were associated with improved wellbeing scores and a sense of purpose.
  • Three in four Australians connect frequently with close ones – family, partner, and/or children – and report significantly higher scores on multiple measures of wellbeing.

Close connections were also important to young people (aged 13-17):

  • The majority of Australian adolescents (74%) often or always connect every day with their families, close friends and/or boy/girlfriend, and more than three in five adolescents (63%) regularly connect with friends. Those who connect regularly reported significantly higher wellbeing scores.
  • Of concern was that nearly a third of adolescents don’t feel safe in their neighbourhood and only 45% feel a sense of belonging to their community (e.g. school).  These young people also reported lower levels of wellbeing
  • An unexpected finding was that adolescents who consumed food from fast food restaurants every day reported higher scores on several indices of overall wellbeing. A possible explanation for this result is that eating out at such venues engages young people in social activity contributing to overall wellbeing.

Professor Littlefield said, “Strong relationships are related to wellbeing as they provide love and security.  Psychologically, these core connections are important as we are social beings and people connections rank high on our list of needs.”

Along with relationships, the survey revealed a pattern of behaviors, activities and attitudes associated with wellbeing.   Strong work and community connections, the ability to live in the moment and having a love of learning, having hobbies, reading, being open to new experiences as well as getting enough sleep, being active, and eating healthily appear to be the keys to happiness for Australians.

Compassforlife.org.au - Measuring happiness and wellbeing The Australian Psychological Society is inviting Australians to visit Compassforlife.org.au to measure their wellbeing. The Compass uses a psychological tool – the PERMA-profiler -that measures the five key pillars which underpin psychological wellbeing: Positive emotion; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning and Accomplishment; along with negative emotions; physical health and loneliness. The aim is to prompt Australians to think about their wellbeing and discover ways to thrive. Compassforlife.org.au


- ENDS -

Notes for editors: More findings and the full survey report can be found at www.compassforlife.org.au.

The Compass for Life survey was commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society and developed in collaboration with the Centre of Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne, and Roy Morgan Research.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact: Karen Coghlan on 0411 390  512 or Rebecca Matthews on 0435 896 444 or email: media@psychology.org.au 

About the Australian Psychological Society (APS)
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is the leading organisation for psychologists in Australia representing over 22,000 members.

Psychology Week

Psychology Week is an annual initiative of the Australian Psychological Society that aims to increase public awareness of how psychology can help Australians lead healthier, happier and more meaningful lives.

In 2016 the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has introduced the Compass for Life, a campaign that will help Australians measure and improve their happiness and wellbeing by promoting Ways to Thrive.