Stoic Week 2014: The Results!

Report on Exeter University “Stoic week” 2014

Tim LeBon

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Key findings

The participants who took part in Stoic Week 2014 exhibited on average

–          Significant improvements in well-being as evaluated by changes in well-being using three validated scales used.   A week’s participation in Stoic Week resulted in a 16% average increase in satisfaction with life, a 10% increase in flourishing, an 11% increase in positive emotions and a 16% reduction in negative emotions.

–          Significant increases in the presence of Stoic attitudes (12%) and behaviours (15%) as measured by the Stoic Attitudes and Behaviours Scale (SABS).

–          A significant positive relationship between Stoic attitudes and behaviours and each of the measures of well-being.

The above three findings taken together give us reason for cautious confidence for positing the existence of a causal link between adopting Stoic attitudes and behaviours (“being more Stoic”) and improvements in well-being, although further research is required to confirm this.

–          In addition the analysis of Stoic attitudes and beliefs (SABS) enables us to discover which elements of Stoicism are most associated with well-being. The items with the highest associations with well-being were:-

–          When an upsetting thought enters my mind the first thing I do is remind myself it’s just an impression in my mind and not the thing it claims to represent. (SABS item 19 “Upsetting thought just impression”)

–          I make an effort to pay continual attention to the nature of my judgments and actions. (SABS Item 17 “Stoic Mindfulness”)

–          I consider myself to be a part of the human race, in the same way that a limb is a part of the human body. It is my duty to contribute to its welfare. (SABS Item 11 “Humanity connected”)

–          It doesn’t really matter what other people think about me as long as I do the right thing item (SABS item 2 “Doing right rather than pleasing people”)

–          I try to contemplate what the ideal wise and good person would do when faced with various misfortunes in life. (SABS Item 16 “Ideal Stoic Adviser”)

SABS Item 19 (“Upsetting thought just impression”) is most associated with positive emotion and satisfaction with life whereas SABS item 17 (“Stoic Mindfulness”) is the element of Stoicism most associated with flourishing.

–          There was almost double the percentage of people who completed Stoic week compared to last year (29% compared to 15% retention in 2013)

To read the report in full, click here