HAPPINESS RAISED BY RAISING AWARENESS OF HOW HAPPY ONE FEELS: Effect of Happiness Self-Monitoring Using the Happiness Indicator

Arnold Bakker, Martijn Burger, Pieter Van Haren, Wido Oerlemans and Ruut Veenhoven
International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, (), 1-35, online since 19/05/2020 Open Access: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41042-020-00032-w

The Happiness Indicator (www.happinessindicator.com ) is an online tool designed to make people more aware of their own happiness. The theory behind the website is that a keener awareness of one’s own happiness helps users find an optimal lifestyle and consequently promotes happiness among participants. Participants periodically record how happy they feel on the present day and how happy they have felt over the past month, using the Happiness Comparer. They also have the option of indicating in the Happiness Diary how happy they felt during the various activities of the previous day. Participants receive instant feedback in the form of a comparison with their earlier scores and with the average scores of similar participants.
The website has been online since January 2011; 5,411 participants have participated at least twice, and 64% of them used the Happiness Diary one or more times. These numbers are now high enough to permit an initial analysis of the effect of the use of the Happiness Indicator on the participants’ happiness.
We find that the use of the Happiness Comparer does not increase happiness significantly. The effect of using the Happiness Diary turns out to be stronger. Using the Happiness Diary 10 times is followed by an average increase in happiness of 2%. In addition, we find that the gain in happiness was particularly strong for those who felt less happy when they first used the Happiness Indicator. Use of the Happiness Indicator may have prevented a decline of happiness among our participants, such as observed in the control-groups of 10 studies among self-selected participants in happiness trainings. If so, the gain in happiness following use of the Happiness Indicator was about 5%, which is quite substantial and comparable to effects of real-life events, such as the birth of a first child.

Keywords: life satisfaction, mood, self-help, e-help, effectiveness, lifestyle, day reconstruction method DRM

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