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The Science of Happiness 13 th Annual Regional Convention Seminar-Workshop Eastern Visayas State University Tacloban Campus September 22, 2012 A Paradigm.

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Presentation on theme: "The Science of Happiness 13 th Annual Regional Convention Seminar-Workshop Eastern Visayas State University Tacloban Campus September 22, 2012 A Paradigm."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Science of Happiness 13 th Annual Regional Convention Seminar-Workshop Eastern Visayas State University Tacloban Campus September 22, 2012 A Paradigm for Teaching Scientific Research

2 Rationale: Why I am researching happiness

3 For K to 12 curriculum, what is the mission of a science teacher? To teach students about the natural world (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.)

4 For K to 12 curriculum, what is the mission of a science teacher? To teach students to think scientifically about their world.

5 The Scientific Method 1.Formulate a question (What causes churva to happen?) 2. Make a hypothesis (“Variable koan causes result churva”) 3. Make a prediction, based on the hypothesis (“If koan is present, then churva will happen”) 4. Test the prediction (Experiment) 5. Analyze the results, and revise the hypothesis if necessary

6 Question: Why does the sun rise and set?

7 Hypothesis: the sun orbits the earth Ptolemy

8 Revised hypothesis: The earth orbits the sun. Copernicus


10 1. Question: Why did I get sick last night? 2. Hypothesis: Because I was outside in the rain. 3. Prediction: If people are outside in the rain, they are more likely to get sick.

11 4. Test the prediction “Large studies have tried very hard to substantiate this myth. Most famous of all were performed at the Common Cold Research Unit in Salisbury, England, where thousands of paid volunteers were chilled before infected mucus was exchanged. Although much was learnt about the illness, being wet and cold appears to have little to do with it.” --The Conversation (25 July 2011)

12 “When it’s cold, people are more likely to spend longer periods indoors at close proximity to others. This makes it easier for infectious droplets of mucus, which are coughed, sneezed, or passed on via hands, to transmit from one person to another.” myth-you-can-catch-a-cold-by-getting-cold-2488

13 Most viruses are transferred and amplified in our heated indoor areas, and risks are greatest to sedentary people.

14 5. Revise Hypothesis Hypothesis: Being in the rain causes people to get sick. Revision: Rain & cold weather do not cause people to get sick. They are confounding, “correlation” factors. In other words, when it rains, we spend more time indoors close to others. Spending more time indoors causes the transmission of sicknesses. Rain just causes us to stay indoors more.

15 A Challenge for K to 12 teaching Can we apply the scientific method to students’ daily lives?

16 A Challenge for K to 12 teaching Can we apply the scientific method to something subjective like happiness?

17 Happiness Joy Ecstasy Pleasure Contentment Fulfillment Zen Optimism Positivity Bliss Kalipayan Felicity Utility Subjective Well-Being Quality of Life Standard of Living Hedonism

18 According to Thomas Aquinus… “The ultimate end of human existence consists in felicity, or "blessed happiness", which is God's essence in the next life.”

19 Utilitarianism (Ultimate Happiness) “One must always act so as to produce the greatest aggregate happiness among all sentient beings, within reason.” --John Stuart Mill

20 What the research shows…

21 1. Question: What causes us to be happy or unhappy?

22 2. Hypothesis Paraplegics are not as happy as people who have full use of their arms and legs.

23 If I lost the use of my arms and/or legs, I would be less happy. 3. Prediction

24 Disability and Happiness “…longitudinal evidence that people who become disabled go on to exhibit considerable recovery in mental well- being. In fixed-effects equations we estimate the degree of hedonic adaptation at — depending on the severity of the disability — approximately 30% to 50%.” Andrew J. Oswald, Nattavudh Powdthavee. Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges. June 2008.

25 If you lost your husband/wife, would you be sadder?

26 “Two life events that seem to knock people lastingly below their happiness set point: loss of a spouse and loss of a job. It takes five to eight years for a widow to regain her previous sense of well-being. Similarly, the effects of a job loss linger long after the individual has returned to the work force.” --Edward Diener

27 If you found the fountain of youth and could stay 25 for the rest of your life, would you be happier?

28 Aging and Happiness “People ages 20 to 24 are sad for an average of 3.4 days a month, as opposed to just 2.3 days for people ages 65 to 74.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2005

29 If you lived in America, would you be happier?


31 Money and Happiness “There is no significant relationship between the improvement in happiness and the long term rate of growth of GDP per capita. This is true for three groups of countries analyzed separately - 17 developed, 9 developing, and 11 transition - and also for the 37 countries taken together. Time series studies reporting a positive relationship confuse a short-term positive association between the growth of happiness and income, arising from fluctuations in macroeconomic conditions.” Easterlin, Richard. Happiness and Growth the World Over: Time Series Evidence on the Happiness-Income Paradox. March 30, 2009

32 Money does not equal happiness


34 Are American men happier than American women?

35 Women and Happiness “By many objective measures the lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men.” Stevenson, Betsey. 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 190-225, August.

36 Is it really “more fun in the Philippines”?


38 If you live in a better climate, are you happier?

39 “Although a 1998 study showed that Midwesterners think people living in balmy California are happier, and that Californians incorrectly think this about themselves, they actually report the same levels of happiness.”

40 If your government is dictatorial, will you be sadder?

41 Government and Happiness “Data from representative national surveys carried out from 1981 to 2007 show that happiness rose in 45 of the 52 countries for which substantial time-series data were available. Regression analyses suggest that that the extent to which a society allows free choice has a major impact on happiness.” Inglehart, Ronald. 2008. Development, Freedom, and Rising Happiness: A Global Perspective (1981–2007)

42 If you are surrounded by happy people, will you be happier?

43 Happiness and Happiness “To test this hypothesis, the authors measured emotions daily for 1 month in a sample of students (N = 86) and assessed life satisfaction and trait resilience at the beginning and end of the month. Positive emotions predicted increases in both resilience and life satisfaction. Negative emotions had weak or null effects and did not interfere with the benefits of positive emotions.” Cohn, Michael. 2009. Happiness unpacked: Positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience.

44 Nations and Happiness “College students from 41 societies (N = 7167) completed measures of life satisfaction and ratings of global and specific aspects of their lives. It was hypothesized that global measures would more strongly reflect individual differences in dispositional positivity, that is, a propensity to evaluate aspects of life in general as good. At both the individual and national levels, positivity predicted life satisfaction beyond objective measures. Also, positivity was associated with norms about ideal life satisfaction such that countries and individuals who highly valued positive emotions were more likely to display positivity.” Diener, Ed. Positivity and the Construction of Life Satisfaction Judgments: Global Happiness is Not the Sum of its Parts. 2009, Volume 38, 229-243, DOI: 10.1007/978-90- 481-2352-0_11

45 Seligman’s Summary: What Makes Us Happy 1.Pleasure (marasa nga pagkaon, mga hilot., atbp) 2.Engagement (mayda ka mga marisyo nga buruhaton. i.e., diri ka mauyam) 3.Relationships (mga kasangkayan, harani nga molupyo ngan pamilya) 4.Meaning (dako nga tuyo, nagtratrabaho ka diri para hit imo kalugaringon la.) 5.Accomplishments (natuman ka mga tuyo).

46 Question: Which of these life factors is most significant in creating happiness? 1. Purpose (tuyo) 2. Autonomy (kawarayan han kaulangan) 3. Mastery (pagtuman) 4. Feeling loved (kasangkayan) 5. Self-Growth (kauswagan) Mark Fullmer’s Research


48 $standarddeviation = array(); $sums = array(); while ($x < 5) { $criterion = "criterion". $x; $criterion = $$criterion; $sample_count = count($criterion); for ($current_sample = 0; $sample_count > $current_sample; ++$current_sample) $sample_square[$current_sample] = pow($criterion[$current_sample], 2); $sd = "sd". $x; $$sd = sqrt(array_sum($sample_square) / $sample_count - pow((array_sum($criterion) / $sample_count), 2)); $standarddeviation[] = $$sd; $sum = "sum".$x; $$sum = array_sum($criterion); $sums[] = $$sum; $x = $x+1;

49 echo $max_val; echo " | "; echo $max_key; echo "The biggest impact on your happiness is "; echo $criteria[$max_key]; echo ". This was calculated by comparing which of the happiness criteria fluctated most. For you, it was "; echo $criteria[$max_key]; echo ".";



52 A few things to keep in mind for conducting (and teaching) good scientific research

53 Semantics Factors studied: 1.Autonomy 2.Mastery 3.Sense of Purpose 4.Self-Growth/Improvement 5.Feeling Loved Definition of Terms

54 Definition of Terms, Version A Happiness: the measure of subjective well being and contentment that an individual feels in his/her life. Autonomy: a person’s ability to determine his/her own actions, and to make decisions

55 Definition of Terms, Version A Happiness: the measure of subjective well being and contentment that an individual feels in his/her life. Autonomy: a person’s ability to determine his/her own actions, and to make decisions

56 Generalization Rating one’s happiness during a year DOES NOT EQUAL One’s day-to-day happiness

57 Memory vs. Experience Humans remember happiness very differently than how they experience it. Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman

58 Participants fill out a long diary and questionnaire detailing everything they did on the previous day and whom they were with at the time and rating a range of feelings during each episode (happy, impatient, depressed, worried, tired, etc.) on a seven-point scale. The method was tested on a group of 900 women in Texas with some surprising results. The Day-Reconstruction Method (Kahneman)

59 What Women Enjoy Most 5. Eating 4. Praying or Meditating 3. Relaxing 2. Socializing 1. Physical Relationships Near the bottom of the list: “Taking care of my children.”

60 Definition of Terms, Version B For the purposes of this study, the terms will be defined as follows: Happiness: a person’s feeling that he/she has maximum autonomy, mastery, sense of purpose, love, and self-growth. Autonomy: a person’s belief that he/she can determine his/her own actions, and to make decisions

61 Reductivism “39% of respondents report “PURPOSE” as the most significant factor to happiness.” DOES NOT EQUAL “A sense of purpose is the most significant factor for determining human happiness.”

62 Problems with Questionnaires 94% of college professors believe they have above-average teaching skills. A survey of high school students found that 70% have above-average leadership skills and only 2% are below average. --David Brooks (NY Times, 2011)

63 1. Above average = higher than the mean score Therefore.. Most college professors think they are better teachers than they actually are. Most high school think they are better leaders than they actually are.

64 Bad Science vs. Good Science Self-survey questionnaire: 1.Does being in the rain make you more likely to be sick? 95% of people answer “yes” Bad Science: “According to our study, being in the rain makes people sick.” Good Science: “Most people think that being in the rain makes them sick.”

65 Bad Science vs. Good Science Self-survey questionnaire: 1.Does your school need more computers? 95% of people answer “yes” Bad Science: “According to our study, the school needs more computers.” Good Science: “Most respondents think that the school needs more computers.”

66 The Pinoy Paradox People in the Philippines are some of the happiest people in the world. So why do many want to live elsewhere?

67 How do we become happier?

68 About 50% of one's satisfaction with life comes from genetic programming. (Genes influence such traits as having a sunny, easygoing personality; dealing well with stress; and feeling low levels of anxiety and depression.) Circumstantial factors like income, marital status, religion and education contribute only about 8% to one's overall well-being. The remaining percentage is determined by "life's slings and arrows.“ --David Lykken, 1996. University of Michigan

69 1.Tell people you appreciate them Writing a testimonial thanking a teacher, pastor or grandparent — anyone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude — and then visiting that person to read him or her the letter of appreciation. People who do this just once are measurably happier and less depressed a month later. But it's gone by three months.

70 2. Every day, remind yourself about positive things in your life Less powerful but more lasting is taking time each day to write down a trio of things that went well and why. "People are less depressed and happier three months later and six months later."

71 3. Volunteer "Giving makes you feel good about yourself. When you're volunteering, you're distracting yourself from your own existence, and that's beneficial. More fuzzily, giving puts meaning into your life. You have a sense of purpose because you matter to someone else."

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