Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


How are we doing? Researchers aim to measure national well being


A new research tool developed by an interdisciplinary team of psychologists and economists could help social scientists more accurately evaluate how well individuals and society are faring. The method offers a new way to characterize the daily life experience of individuals, aimed at providing a measure that could be used in assessing social interventions, including clinical trials. Its developers are working on a way to use the method in calculating a "National Well-Being Account," to provide a broad measure of the well-being of people of all ages, akin to the economic measure Gross Domestic Product.

The tool, called the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM), assesses how people spend their time and how they feel about, or experience, activities throughout a given day. In a trial of the new technique, a group of women rated the psychological and social aspects of a number of daily activities. Among these women, relaxing with friends was one of the most enjoyable activities, and the least enjoyable was commuting.

DRM is described by Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and colleagues in the December 3, 2004, issue of Science. Dr. Kahneman was joined in this study by his Princeton University colleague, economist Alan B. Krueger, and psychologists David A. Schkade of the University of California, San Diego, Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan, and Arthur A. Stone of Stony Brook University.

"Current measures of well-being and quality of life need to be significantly improved," says Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., Associate Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which in part funded the research. "In the future I predict that this approach will become an essential part of national surveys seeking to assess the quality of life. The construction of a National Well-Being Account that supplements the measure of GNP with a measure of aggregate happiness is a revolutionary idea." The NIA is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the DRM, participants revive memories of the previous day by writing a short diary. They are told to think of their day as a series of scenes or episodes in a film. Next, they answer a series of questions about each episode, including where they were, what they were doing, whom they were with, and how they felt during the episode. The goal is to provide researchers with an accurate picture of the moment-to-moment experiences associated with daily activities.

In a test of DRM, involving 909 employed women, Dr. Kahneman and his colleagues validated this new approach by comparing the results to findings obtained using the experience sampling method, in which people are prompted at random moments throughout the day to record what they are currently doing and how they are feeling. The women who participated in the DRM, for instance, reported the same pattern of tiredness as participants in an experience sampling study: decreasing tiredness throughout the morning, followed by increasing weariness after noon, and peaking at the end of the work day. Experience sampling is considered the gold standard for assessing the details of individuals’ feelings, but the DRM approach is considerably less expensive and more efficient.

The researchers used the ratings of different activities by DRM participants to define an "enjoyment" scale. On the high end of the scale was relaxing with friends, followed by lunch with co-workers, watching TV alone, shopping with a spouse, and cooking alone. Being with one’s boss and commuting alone anchored the low end of the enjoyment scale. The scale was then used to characterize the effects of a variety of circumstances. For example, sleep quality had a large effect on the enjoyment of life. Women who slept poorly, on average, enjoyed their day as little as a typical person enjoys commuting. In contrast, those who usually slept well enjoyed their day as much as most people enjoy watching television, the third most pleasant activity.

The effects of time pressure on the enjoyment of work were also very large.

"Measures of wealth or health do not tell the whole story of how society as a whole or particular populations within it are doing," Dr. Kahneman says. "A measure of how different categories of people spend their time and of how they experience their activities could provide a useful indication of the well-being of society. The DRM can serve this purpose, and it is likely to be useful for medical researchers, epidemiologists, economists, and others."

Doug Dollemore | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>