Tuesday, December 02, 2014
An Equation for Happiness?
It’s hard to describe happiness, let alone to measure it. We all see it differently. Psychologists have multiple theories in this regard. Neuroscientists point to multiple brain mechanisms and the levels of different neuromediators. Clinicians have studied multiple environmental and medical factors leading to various mood disorders. The picture is complex, and putting various influencing parameters into one equation that could have a predictive value would seem to be an impossible task. But this is exactly what researchers from University College London have attempted. In their article published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science they’ve suggested an equation that rather accurately calculates the level of moment-to-moment happiness. The equation takes into account two major factors: expectation and reward. In their experiments, the researchers asked 26 volunteers to participate in decision-making tasks that could lead to some real monetary gains or losses. It turned out that happiness wasn’t linked to the amount of wealth accumulated. Rather, happiness was experienced when things were going better than expected. On top of this, recent rewards substantially influenced the moment-to-moment happiness. more