The Science of Happiness
and Well Being?
By Kevin Hogan
The United Kingdom is doing a big nationwide public survey this
week with hopes of learning about the state of the nation,
specifically their citizens' "happiness" and "well-being".
200,000 people will get a survey from The Office for National
The questions? Last I saw, there are four.
Why is the government going to the trouble to collect
answers to these questions?
- Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
- Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
- Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
- Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your
life are worthwhile?
You could imagine that people in certain areas of the UK,
living in different circumstances, will report different levels
of happiness or anxiety and feelings of satisfaction.
What is the Purpose?
The stated goal: To make valuable shifts in Social Policy.
Unfortunately, this isn't real research by any measure or
These four questions are ridiculous to real researchers
Ultimately the questions, regardless of the answers,
tell you almost nothing about the people being surveyed.
The beginning of my concern is that the information they
collect will indeed be used the way they say it will...
to "improve" social policy.
The more you think about it, the more you realize that
the very worst way to create public policy is based on how...
"anxious, satisfied, perception of meaningfulness, and happiness"...
someone says they are experiencing on some given day.
It all seems well intended...but...watch...
"The Moment Lens"
Mood and well-being are seen/felt through the lens of
The Moment. Right now. This instant.
For example, if you are in a great mood right now, and
think about your past, the past will be remembered as a little
better than it "was".
If you are in a sad mood and you think about your past, it will
seem a little sadder than it "was".
Our hindsight is 20/100, then filtered through the mood
of "the moment".
I have a few questions I'd like to ask you and see how you
respond, and then I'd like to see if your responses are influenced
by the mood of the moment.
Just what is the mood of the moment? ...
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