Happiness research

Over at the Accumulating Peripherals blog, there is a discussion on the pros and cons of happiness research.  Matt offers explains his beef with happiness research and I have commented also on the discussion.

Much of the happiness research out there is based on self reporting.  In other words, it asks you if you feel happy.  OK, so the questions are more complex, but it basically asks for your opinion.  On the one hand, that is poor science, because our perceptions of things are rarely accurate.  A good example is how a couple high-profile crimes can get a city or even a whole country talking about how the crime rate is on the rise and it’s about time we stop the growing menace — even while statistics show that year after year the crime rate has slowly been declining.

On the other hand, happiness is a subjective thing.  It is something we feel, and it could be argued that the only valid measurement of happiness is our perception of it. How could one actually measure happiness empirically.  People try, of course, but what means happiness to one person is not completely the same thing that means happiness to the next person.  So can an objective measure be more accurate than a subjective measure?  Probably not.

Please feel free to go over to Matt’s blog and comment.  And then please come back here and comment, too.


  1. Very right when you say that our perceptions of things are rarely accurate indeed! Also happiness is a subjective concept for sure and For me Happinness lies within oneself instead of outside world. You can remain happy every moment of your life provided you want to remain happy all time. I am bookmarking this wonderful write-up: http://delicious.com/britneyvaughan

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