I am feeling …

According to the research of Peter Dodds and Christopher Danforth, applied mathematicians at the University of Vermont, the emotions expressed at the beginning of this blog can be analyzed, categorized, and scored on a happiness scale of 1-9. Over the past four years, Dodds and Danforth have studied 2.4 million blogs in an effort to measure the collective happiness of the planet. As a result of their research, we learn that Sunday, for example, is the happiest day of the week.

I’ve been interested in happiness research for a while now, and in the past have had a little bit of fun using individual happiness scales with faculty and staff. What makes this new research interesting is that it attempts to look at the topic from a global scale. After reading about Dodds and Danforth, I did a bit more digging and found that there is a body of research dedicated to trying to quantify and compare global “happiness” by using economic and psychological indicators.

  • One such site run by the Center for Well Being at the New Economics Foundation (nef) try to use economics to quantify global happiness in ways that stretch beyond consumption.
  • Research by Adrian G. White at the University of Leicester moves away from an economic approach altogether and seeks a psychological perspective. His Subjective Well Being map looks much different than the map provided by nef.

Interestingly, White points to a recent study in the UK that showed 81% of the population agreed that the primary objective of the government should be the creation of happiness rather than wealth.

What put the work of Dodds and Danforth on the map (pun intended) was the way in which they integrated new media and added the feelings of real people into their research — which is, I guess, what happiness is all about.

If you want to learn more about their work, you might find it interesting to look at the original web site that inspired them at: http://www.wefeelfine.org.