Fear of Happiness Scale

Gauge the severity of your patient’s cherophobia by using the Fear of Happiness Scale to help you determine how their fear of happiness affects their mental health.

By Matt Olivares on May 15, 2024.

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What is cherophobia?

Before we discuss the Fear of Happiness Scale, let’s briefly discuss cherophobia.

Cherophobia is the fear of happiness. If you find this to be strange, well, don’t worry. It’s normal to find it strange because why would you fear happiness? Everyone wants to be happy, right?

Mohsen Joshnaloo, a renowned psychologist whose research focuses on personality and how cultural backgrounds affect a person’s psychology and mental well-being, expounded on cherophobia. To him, the fear of happiness stems from the warped belief that being happy (or too happy) will result in bad things, and he believes that such fear is tied to cultural beliefs. This fear contributes to the suppression of positive emotions.

Joshanloo, alongside Dan Weijers, identified four universal characteristics of the fear of happiness:

  • Being happy or too happy will result in unpleasant things happening
  • Being happy or too happy makes you a worse person in terms of morals
  • Expressing your positive emotions is bad for you and others
  • The pursuit of happiness is bad for you and others

A patient you’re handling is likely to have a fear of happiness if they have the following symptoms:

  • They believe being too happy will result in unpleasant things happening
  • They believe being and feeling happy makes you an awful person
  • They believe that they and others should not express happiness because it may upset other people
  • They avoid joyful social gatherings
  • They avoid being in relationships that will make them happy
  • They reject life opportunities that will make them happy and successful

Do note that cherophobia is not clinically recognized yet, and it’s still being researched by experts. Though, it’s safe to say that this fear can be examined to gauge how it has negatively impacted a patient’s mental well-being. One way to gauge this is to use a useful tool that Mohsen Joshanloo created: The Fear of Happiness Scale.

Printable Fear of Happiness Scale

Download this Fear of Happiness Scale to determine how a patient’s fear of happiness affects their mental health.

How to use the Fear of Happiness Scale

The Fear of Happiness Scale is a five-item scale. These items have preset answers, and the person being asked to answer each item must select an answer that best resonates with them.

There are two ways to use this scale:

  1. You can conduct it like an interview. To do so, you simply need to mention each item and have the patient select the answer that best applies to them. This is more time-consuming than the following method, but the upside is you’ll have the opportunity to ask them to expand on their answers. This is great because you can better gauge what exactly contributes to their fear of happiness as soon as they provide an answer to an item.
  1. This method is the most simple. Just hand a copy of the Fear of Happiness Scale and have the patient select an answer, then wait for a finished copy to be returned. You can use their answers to frame a discussion about their fear of happiness.

Whichever method you pick is valid. It’s up to your style. Either way, the patient will answer the following items:

  • I prefer not to be too joyful because usually joy is followed by sadness.
  • I believe the more cheerful and happy I am, the more I should expect bad things to occur in my life.
  • Disasters often follow good fortune.
  • Having lots of joy and fun causes bad things to happen.
  • Excessive joy has some bad consequences.

Patients need to rate each one between 1 to 7:

  • 1 = Strongly disagree
  • 2 = Somewhat disagree
  • 3 = Disagree a little
  • 4 = Neither agree nor disagree
  • 5 = Agree a little
  • 6 = Somewhat agree
  • 7 = Strongly agree

There are no score ranges or designations for this scale. Use your patient’s self-ratings to determine what your next discussion should be about and what other things you need to do to gauge your patient.

Fear of Happiness Scale Example

Now you know the gist of what cherophobia is, what the Fear of Happiness Scale is, how the scale is used, and how the scale can be answered, it’s time for you to see what it looks like. We simply took the Fear of Happiness Scale made by Mohsen Joshanloo and kept the instructions, items, and preset items as they are. The only thing we added is an Additional Comments box. This is for you to note things down if ever your patient expounds on the self-ratings.

If you like what you see and believe that Joshanloo’s Fear of Happiness Scale can help you gauge your patient’s aversion to happiness, feel free to download this free PDF template. If you want, you can print it and fill it out with a pen, or you can just engage with the interactable parts of the PDF.

Download this Fear of Happiness Scale Example:

Fear of Happiness Scale Example

When is it best to use the Fear of Happiness Scale?

Considering that the scale only has five items and there are no score ranges, you’re probably wondering when would it be best to use the Fear of Happiness Scale. We recommend you use this scale in the middle of your program. What we mean by this is that you should have already established trust and rapport with your patient. You must also have established a safe and non-judgmental space.

The reason we recommend that you only use this in the middle of your program is that, during the early stages, your patient may not be willing to talk to you about their unhappiness and the factors that contribute to it. During that phase of your program, they don’t know you, and they likely don’t trust you yet, so focus on breaking down the ice first. Once you’ve established trust, they will become more willing to discuss what contributes to their unhappiness. If they ever talk about having an aversion to happiness, that’s your signal to issue the Fear of Happiness Scale. 

What are the benefits of using the Fear of Happiness Scale?

It’s an easy-to-use scale, and it’s inexpensive.

The Fear of Happiness Scale is short. It has five items, and patients answering it only need to rate each item on a scale of 1 to 7. You can print several copies and issue them whenever patients indicate they fear happiness or have an aversion to it. Or, you can go paperless and send it to your patients via email. There is also no score to calculate. All you need to do after is have your patient expound on their answers and then determine what to do next.

It can help gauge patients who have an aversion to happiness.

If your patient’s mental health has been impacted by unhappiness, and they actually mention an aversion to happiness, this scale can help you gauge how severe their aversion is. If their answers are high, the professional can ask the patient to expound on it to further understand why they have an aversion to happiness. Warped thinking can be corrected through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Techniques and activities under that type of therapy can be used to tackle those factors and reconfigure how they view happiness.

It can be used to monitor your patients at a later time.

Let’s stipulate that you’ve started employing Cognitive Behavioral Techniques and other techniques to help your patient work through their warped views of happiness, assuming they have a fear or aversion to it. It’s only natural to want to know the progress of your patient. It’ll surely be noticeable as you go through your sessions with them, but if you want, you may reissue the Fear of Happiness Scale to them after some time. If their answers reflect that they agree a little less or completely disagree with the statements on the scale, then it’s safe to assume that your therapy program is working.

How long does it take to accomplish this scale?
How long does it take to accomplish this scale?

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to accomplish this scale?

The scale is short and can be answered in a minute or two, but if you conduct it like an interview, it can take longer.

How is this different from the Fear of Happiness Scale by Gilbert?

The version by Gilbert has nine items, and the rating scale is between 0 - 4.

What if I’m not enrolled in some sort of therapy? Can I use this for myself?

Yes, but please don’t substitute it for therapy. If you have a fear of or aversion to happiness and it has heavily impacted your mental well-being, please see a professional so they can help you work through and reconfigure how you think about happiness.

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