What makes people happy?
The idea for Consensus came from wanting instant answers to the question: “what does the science actually say about XYZ?”
Now that the product is alive, we will be sending out interesting things we learned using Consensus. Today, we are thrilled to be sharing our first ever user submitted query of the week!
We are asking, what does the research say about….what makes people happy?
Can science answer our most important questions?
One of the most pleasant surprises of this early iteration of Consensus has been how well it seems to perform in some of the “softer” science fields. In previous query of the week examples we’ve seen this with social science questions like “does the death penalty reduce crime?”
But – something I never imagined is that analysis over peer-reviewed literature could be useful in providing insights to some of the worlds most important and existential questions.
While conclusions from these studies may be less definitive than those from a well-designed randomized control trial in the medical world, we should not underestimate how useful science can be in revealing interesting nuggets about humanity’s biggest questions.
While seeking to identify what makes human beings happy may seem like an long and winding journey, the literature actually seems to come to fairly universal conclusion:
- Social interaction, a sense of community and being around others is the most most powerful driver of human happiness
These studies found that:
- People’s happiness depends on the happiness of their social group
- Focusing on others and living socially drives happiness
- Living in a community of happy people makes people happy
- Happy people come from happy communities
- That relationships, not material things lead to happiness
- This study looked at word association in written articles to prove this so take it with a grain of salt…
- Even interacting with “virtual agents” who displayed happiness made people more happy
BONUS studies that didn’t actually answer our original question but were very interesting found that: