Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New research tool aids study of national well-being

03.12.2004


Princeton researchers develop method to better measure people’s quality of life



A new research method that quantifies people’s quality of life -- beyond how much money they make -- could lead to a national index of well-being, similar to key measures of economic health. The Day Reconstruction Method (DRM), developed by Princeton researchers and colleagues from three universities, creates an "enjoyment scale" by requiring people to record the previous day’s activities in a short diary form and describe their feelings about the experiences. The technique is more effective than current methods of measuring the well-being of individuals and of society, the researchers said in the Dec. 3 issue of Science.

The new tool will be used in an effort to calculate a "national well-being account," a measure similar to economic gauges such as the gross national product. The research team is working with the Gallup Organization to pilot a national telephone survey using the new method. "The potential value is tremendous," said Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who worked with psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate, on the study. "Right now we use national income as our main indicator of well-being, but income is only a small contributor to life satisfaction. Ultimately, if our survey is successful and generates the type of data we hope, we would like to see the government implement our method to provide an ongoing measure of well-being in addition to national income."


The Princeton researchers collaborated with psychologists David Schkade of the University of California-San Diego, Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan and Arthur Stone of the State University of New York-Stony Brook. "Current measures of well-being and quality of life need to be significantly improved," said Richard Suzman, associate director of the National Institute on Aging, which partially 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."

Using the DRM method, the researchers asked 909 women to recall the previous workday as a sequence of episodes and rate the psychological and social aspects of those activities. Results were compared to experiments based on more common "experience sampling" methods (ESM) used in well-being studies, in which subjects record their actions and feelings several times throughout the day.

The new method proved to be less expensive and more efficient, according to the researchers. "It imposes less respondent burden; does not disrupt normal activities; and provides an assessment of contiguous episodes over a full day, rather than a sampling of moments," they wrote. It also relies less on respondents’ selective memory and provides a better picture of how people budget their time.

The study also supports previous findings that money does not buy happiness, the researchers said. The income and education levels of the respondents had less impact on the enjoyment of their daily activities than factors such as their temperament and sleep quality. "Measures of wealth or health do not tell the whole story of how society as a whole or particular populations within it are doing. 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," said Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in economic sciences for his pioneering integration of psychological research about decision-making into economics. "The DRM can serve this purpose, and it is likely to be useful for medical researchers, epidemiologists, economists and others," he added.

The NIA recently awarded the team that developed the DRM a grant as an Edward R. Roybal Center for Research on Applied Gerontology to pursue further study of measures of well-being. The initial development of the DRM was also supported by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and National Science Foundation.

Krueger noted that the interdisciplinary nature of the team was crucial to the development of the new research tool and its future applications. "Both psychologists and economists bring different perspectives to the study of well-being," he said. "This type of work could not have been done without collaboration across disciplines."

Eric Quinones | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.princeton.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>