Psychology Trends: Happiness Tracking

Back in the day, psychological researchers who wanted to measure people’s in-the-moment happiness, thoughts and activities had to supply their study participants with devices in order to do this.

From this research, we learned, for example, that people’s moment to moment experiences of positive emotions are important determinants of overall happiness (it might sound obvious but the prevailing wisdom was that general life circumstances such as having a nice house, being satisfied with your career trajectory etc, were more important determinants of happiness).

Now we have smart phones

(if you don’t have a smart phone there is still info here for you).

If you want to participate in a research study that gives you a personalized report about what determines your moods you might like the “Track Your Happiness” project.

by researchers in the psychology department at Harvard University.

How it works

– You sign up via their website (free)

– You fill out an online questionnaire to start.

– You choose how many mini surveys you want to do each day (the default is 3). Each ones takes about 3 minutes.

– You get alerts at random times each day that you have a new mini survey to complete. If you choose to do 3 mini surveys then you get 3 alerts. You can get the alerts via txt msg (US), email, or iphone app.

– When you sign up, you tell the program your sleeping hours so you don’t get alerts while you’re asleep.

– The questions are generally interesting. You can get a sense of what kinds of things the researchers think might be important determinants of happiness from the questions they ask.

– The questions vary with each survey, although a few are annoyingly repetitive. e.g. you get asked each survey what time you went to bed the previous night and what time you got up.

– You can access a personalized report which gets more reliable the more surveys you have done.

Or, How to Design Your Own

If you want to do your own, more targeted/personalized self study, I’ll show you how next post…