36 Scientific Facts You Should Know About Happiness_Featured_, Happiness Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
July 25, 2012
Giving is better than receiving
Danariely.com:Whatever your gift philosophy, you may be thinking that you would be happier if you could just spend the money on yourself – but according to a three-part study by Elizabeth Dunn, Lara Aknin, and Michael Norton, givers can get more happiness than people who spend the money on themselves.
Liz, Lara and Mike approached the study from the perspective that happiness is less dependent on stable circumstances (income) and more on the day-to-day activities in which a person chooses to engage (gift-giving vs. personal purchases).
To that end, they surveyed a representative sample of 632 Americans on their spending choices and happiness levels and found that while the amount of personal spending (bills included) was unrelated to reported happiness, prosocial spending was associated with significantly higher happiness.
Women are getting unhappier
NY Times:Our research is simply about documenting a fact: since the 1970’s, women’s self-reported happiness has fallen, relative to that of men. This seems paradoxical, given the tremendous strides made by the women’s movement. We report this fact, test that it is a robust finding, and suggest that future research may help sort out whether it reflects how the women’s movement affected women’s hedonic state; whether it reflects the differential impact on women of some broader social trend; or if instead it is telling us something about the (un)reliability of happiness data.
Your grandmother was half right about what makes you happy
Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert:Some of the things Grandma told you were exactly right. Find a nice boy, settle down: good advice. It turns out marriage is a cause of happiness. Grandma might have told you to find a good job and make some money. That advice is not terrible advice. More money makes you happy, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for you, and once you’re in the middle class, more money does very little. The last piece of advice grandmothers give is children. There are virtually no studies demonstrating a positive correlation between children and happiness, and most studies show a small negative correlation. By and large, people with children are less happy.
America seems to be getting happier
The Atlantic Monthly reports that Facebook is keeping tabs on the national mood via its Gross National Happiness Index. It “counts the number of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ words used in each status update, converts them to percentages, finds average percents based on all users that day, then subtracts the ‘negative percent’ from the ‘positive percent’ to get a value for the y axis—but the results are clear: Weekends and holidays are better than midweek, and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day ’09 recorded more happiness than ’08 (probably because more celebrating moms and dads had Facebook pages in ’09.) And the bottom line: Despite a deepening recession and prolonged wars, Americans seemed to be happier in 2009 than 2008.”From Eric Barker’s Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Follow him on Twitter.
Happiness is contagious
By studying Framingham as an interconnected network rather than a mass of individuals, Christakis and Fowler made a remarkable discovery: Obesity spread like a virus. Weight gain had a stunning infection rate. If one person became obese, the likelihood that his friend would follow suit increased by 171 percent. (This means that the network is far more predictive of obesity than the presence of genes associated with the condition.)
A similar pattern appears when the researchers looked at the spread of smoking, loneliness and happiness. In each instance, the social network appeared to be a major causal factor, determining whether or not someone was able to quite cigarettes or experience lasting happiness. The reality, then, appears straightforward: our friends strongly shape our behavior. We imagine ourselves as individuals, responsible for our own choices and emotions, but that sense of independence is a romantic myth. There is no wall between people.
Sometimes giving up hope increases happiness
Holding on to hope may not make patients happier as they deal with chronic illness or diseases, according to a new study by University of Michigan Health System researchers.
“Hope is an important part of happiness,” said Peter A. Ubel, M.D., director of the U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine and one of the authors of the happily hopeless study, “but there’s a dark side of hope. Sometimes, if hope makes people put off getting on with their life, it can get in the way of happiness.”
The results showed that people do not adapt well to situations if they are believed to be short-term.
Mastering a skill is stressful, but reaps long term happiness
EurekAlert:Contrary to previous research, the study found that people who engage in behaviors that increase competency, for example at work, school or the gym, experience decreased happiness in the moment, lower levels of enjoyment and higher levels of momentary stress. Despite the negative effects felt on an hourly basis, participants reported that these same activities made them feel happy and satisfied when they looked back on their day as a whole. This surprising find suggests that in the process of becoming proficient at something, individuals may need to endure temporary stress to reap the happiness benefits associated with increased competency.
Hourly employees are happier than employees on a salary
EurekAlert: People paid by the hour exhibit a stronger relationship between income and happiness, according to a study published in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB), the official journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
Researchers explored the relationship between income and happiness by focusing on the organizational arrangements that make the connection between time and money. They found that the way in which an employee is paid is tied to their feeling of happiness.
The researchers theorize that hourly wage-earners focus more attention on their pay than those who earn a salary. That concrete, consistent focus on the worth of the employee’s time in each paycheck influences the level of happiness the employee feels.
You have to earn 2.5x as much money to be as happy working for someone else as you would be working for yourself
Phil Dhingra this from Malcolm Gladwell’s new article in The New Yorker, “How to succeed as an entrepreneur“:This is consistent with the one undisputed finding in all the research on entrepreneurship: people who work for themselves are far happier than the rest of us. Shane says that the average person would have to earn two and a half times as much to be as happy working for someone else as he would be working for himself.
This is a map of the happiest and least happy places on Earth
You will be the happiest living in a rich neighborhood in a poor country
Move to a rich neighborhood in a poor county:The relative income or income status hypothesis implies that people should be happier when they live among the poor. Findings on neighborhood effects suggest, however, that living in a poorer neighborhood reduces, not enhances, a person’s happiness. Using data from the American National Election Study linked to income data from the U.S. census, the authors find that Americans tend to be happier when they reside in richer neighborhoods (consistent with neighborhood studies) in poorer counties (as predicted by the relative income hypothesis). Thus it appears that individuals in fact are happier when they live among the poor, as long as the poor do not live too close.
Source: “Does Your Neighbor’s Income Affect Your Happiness?” from “American Journal of Sociology”