Reflections on the science of joy: Current challenges and future directions

Elizabeth J. Krumrei-Mancuso, Pepperdine University


This paper offers a response to Matthew Kuan Johnson’s paper, Joy: A Review of the Literature and Suggestions for Future Directions (this issue). In dialogue with Johnson’s review paper and other writings, I will describe what I view as the predominant challenges currently faced in the young science of joy, reflect on potential distinctive features of joy, and offer some ideas for future research. In particular, I offer thoughts on Johnson’s theme of the relation between joy and suffering. This topic has been explored most extensively within theology. I will briefly offer a non-religious theory to complement religious themes in the literature. I will describe how, contrary to some current thinking, hardship may be a mechanism that promotes joy. This is a topic ripe for empirical investigation.