Happiness: A Function of Ideology?

The New York Times reported a story today that looked at research about happiness and ideology. The research suggests what while conservatives are more likely to report being happy, liberals are more likely to evidence happy behaviors.

See NY Times article: Click Here

happy catThe article described several studies. You can get a sense of the challenges by looking at the different measures and methodologies. For example, “One study analyzed the emotional content of more than 430 million words entered in the Congressional Record over 18 years. Liberal-leaning politicians, the researchers found, were more likely to use positive words and no more likely to use sad or negative words.” Continue reading »

Stressed Out?

Science stat’s published research about Americans and stress, looking at several demographic and situational factors that might contribute to stress. Click here for article

stress data
They described the methodology:
“About the study:

Interviews were conducted via telephone (including both landline and cell phone) between March 3 and April 8, 2014, among a nationally representative sample of 2,505 adults age 18 and older. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. To compensate for known biases and variations in probability of selection within and across households, sample data were weighed by household size, cell phone/landline use and demographics to reflect the true population. Random-digit dialing, replicate subsamples, and systematic respondent selection within households, were used to ensure that the sample is representative.”

What surprises you? What does not? What factors might explain variations in reported stress levels by gender or income? What other factors might affect stress levels that they did not ask about?

Is It Government’s Job to Make Us Happy?

I came across Arthur C. Brooks’ book : Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters For America—And How We Can Get More Of It, published in 2008

From a research perspective, we have to first ask what is happiness, whether it can be measured and if so, how. “Happiness is measurable,” Brooks states. (p.9).  Really?  In my world, I operate with a general guiding principle that says concepts like happiness do not lend themselves to objective measurement. He uses surveys that have asked  people to report their perceptions about their happiness. This is self-reported data and it is as good as it is going to get.  Surveys are a valid methodology and we can track people’s self-reports over time. We tend to assume that any problems with the self-reported data will balance out over time.

One premise of his research is that is a connection between large governmental policies and people’s perceptions about their happiness. Do you think that is the case?

Looking at 30 years of data, the self-reported levels of happiness do not vary much over time. Analysis of the General Social Survey (a very large national survey) found that in 1972, 30% reported being “very happy” and 53% reported being “pretty happy.” In 2002, 30% reported being “very happy” and 57% reported being “pretty happy.” (See table 1, p. 213). It is worth noting that even a national tragedy like 9/11 did not appear to impact self-reported levels of happiness. Continue reading »

Brooks: Most Americans Regret They Can’t Work More. Really?

From Arthur C. Brooks, Gross Domestic Happiness:-Advice to policy makers: We should celebrate our work, not impose greater leisure. (p. 202). One piece of is there a generic cialis evidence is survey data that shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans surveyed are satisfied with their jobs. I remember being surprised when viagra mail order analyzing surveys of federal employees that also showed the overwhelming majority reported being satisfied. However, if you looked at responses to does generic viagra work other survey questions, you saw dissatisfaction with pay, micro-management, poor management, and other quality of worklife factors. I concluded that people were satisfied with the work they actually did despite their dissatisfaction with the other qualities of their workplace. He then presents data that shows that people who are satisfied with work are more likely to be happy than those who are not satisfied. He states, “the data are overwhelmingly clear that for most Americans, work in and of itself brings happiness.”( p. 159). While there may be an association between job satisfaction and happiness in life (and he provides no such measure in his analysis), association does not mean the relationship is causal nor does it indicate which one is the causal variable. It is possible that people who are generally happy with life are more likely to be resilient in facing challenges at work and therefore report feeling satisfied. viagra vs cialis Brooks goes on to state, “Most Americans regret they can’t work more, not that they best canadian online pharmacy reviews can’t work less,” The data? He reports a 1998 study that found “only 11 percent of the American workers said they wished they could spend much less time on their paid work—versus 12 percent who said they could spend much more time on it.” (p. 159). Continue reading »