Can I calculate happiness?

Happiness can be calculated

The general living conditions and financial situation play an important role in personal happiness. But how do daily situations affect our well-being? Dr. Robb Rutledge and his colleagues from University College London. To do this, the scientists created a mathematical model that can be used to predict how happy someone will be at a certain point in time.

Little expectation, great luck

26 volunteers had to choose between a safe and a risky investment. After the study participants were told whether they had made or lost money, they were asked how happy they felt. In addition, the scientists measured the activity of the nerve cells in the brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The result: the test subjects felt best when they did better than they had expected. “It is often said that if you have low expectations, you are happier. We were able to show that there is some truth to it, ”says Rutledge. For example, those who go out to eat and don't make too much of themselves are more likely to be satisfied with the food. Anticipation of an event can also lighten the mood - for example, when you have an appointment with friends in a restaurant.

Understand how feelings of happiness arise

The “happiness prediction model” created by the scientists takes into account past events and their consequences as well as expectations. With the help of the smartphone

The game app "The Great Britain Experiment" tested the model by Rutledge's team. Using their equation, the scientists were able to predict pretty much how happy participants would feel during the game. 18,420 people have played it so far.

“The model can help to understand how life circumstances and events influence mood,” says Rutledge, “and to what extent mentally ill people differ from healthy people.” In this way, new therapeutic approaches for mentally ill people could possibly be found. (from)

Source:Rutledge R.B. et al .: A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being, PNAS, August 2014