Happiness through an iPhone app

Not – I should add – an iPhone app which puports to deliver happiness but one which sets out to measure it as part of the Mappiness research project based at LSE.  As I write this, the hedonimeters for both London and for the UK as a whole are running a bit higher than the average, suggesting a surge of optimism among the community of users.

Of course an important limitation of this approach is that it doesn’t even purport to test happiness among the population as a whole.  All the participants are people who have an iPhone, who are interested enough in the project to download the app, and who are sufficiently committed that they provide data.  But the project could prove a useful way of establishing the validity of the approach, so that if you were interested in measuring the happiness of a particular group of people you could issue them with phone apps and also arrange some incentive for them to respond.

Happiness remains a rather nebulous concept however – I am reminded of Michael Frayn’s novel a landing on the sun which satirises the workings of the civil service, and the legacy of a past attempt to understand the nature of happiness.

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