Tool for dealing with the ‘data-deluge’

Ruut Veenhoven, Erasmus university Rotterdam
In: Psychological Topics (special issue on Positive Psychology) 2009, 18: 221-246 ISSN 1332-0742

Social scientists produce an ever growing stream of research findings, which is ever more difficult to oversee. This calls for new methods of research synthesis and in particular methods for bringing research findings together and presenting these in a comparable way. The World Database of Happiness is an example of such a method and assembles research findings on happiness; both distributional findings (how happy people are) and correlational findings (concomitants of happiness). In its focus on ‘findings’ the system differs from data-archives that store ’investigations’ and from bibliographies that store’ publications’. As yet there is no established word for this tool for research synthesis. I call it a ‘findings catalog’.

The substantive focus of this database is on subjective enjoyment of one’s life as-a-whole. The database involves five related collections on this matter: 1) The Bibliography of Happiness, which involves some 4000 publications, 2) a collection of acceptable Measures of Happiness that contains about 800 variants. 3) the collection of Happiness in Nations that list the distributional findings of some 3000 general population surveys in nations studies, 4) the collection of Happiness in Publics containing the results of some 3000 studies among particular categories within nations and 5) The collection of Correlational findings, which involves some 11000 findings on covariates of happiness. These collections can be browsed on the internet at

This paper describes the data system and the collection. It calls for cooperation in keeping the database up to date.

Key words: research synthesis, happiness, life satisfaction subjective wellbeing

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