Are We Happier As A Nation Than In The Past?
How do you measure happiness? Do you think your happiness level has increased over time?
Vox reports on a unique study where international scientists took up the challenge to find out about the rise and fall of happiness based on what various authors and writers wrote about and the words they used when they wrote over time.
Researchers analyzed millions of books, magazine and newspaper articles and used the words in them to measure changes in subjective well-being in four countries: the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Italy.
Scientists used sentiment analysis on 200 years’ worth of books to see how our happiness has changed over time and they found that increases in national income generate national happiness, but it takes a huge increase to have a noticeable effect . At the same time, one less year of war had the equivalent effect on happiness as a 30 percent rise in GDP.
The study published this week in Nature Human Behavior,showed that in general, there were dips in well-being across all the countries as wars took place, but all bounced back pretty quickly.
But is this data reliable? Researchers say it closely aligns with the findings of different studies where well-being was specifically measured, but at the same time, since the data for this work is taken from public texts, it could be subject to censorship, altering the results.