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July 30th, 2004 - Open Knowledge

Jul. 30th, 2004

03:16 pm - Gratitude and thankfulness

Via Marginal Revolution:

http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Gratitude_Page.htm

Highlights from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness
Dimensions and Perspectives of Gratitude
Co-Investigators: Robert A. Emmons, University of California, Davis
(contact: raemmons@ucdavis.edu; 530.752.8844)
Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami
(contact: mikem@miami.edu; 305.284.8057)

Gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research. We are engaged in a long-term research project
designed to create and disseminate a large body of novel scientific data on the nature of gratitude, its causes,
and its potential consequences for human health and well-being. Scientists are latecomers to the concept of
gratitude. Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable manifestation of
virtue, and an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being. Through conducting highly focused,
cutting-edge studies on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its consequences, we hope to shed important
scientific light on this important concept. This document is intended to provide a brief, introductory
overview of the major findings to date of the research project. For further information, please contact either
of the project investigators. This project is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
We are engaged in two main lines of inquiry at the present time: (1) developing methods to cultivate
gratitude in daily life and assess gratitude’s effect on well-being, and (2) developing a measure to reliably
assess individual differences in dispositional gratefulness.

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03:42 pm - The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

[I think I've linked this before, but it bears revisiting.]

Via Marginal Revolution:

http://healthandenergy.com/pursuit_of_happiness.htm

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

By JON GERTNER
September 7, 2003


f Daniel Gilbert is right, then you are wrong. That is to say, if Daniel Gilbert is right, then you are wrong to believe that a new car will make you as happy as you imagine. You are wrong to believe that a new kitchen will make you happy for as long as you imagine. You are wrong to think that you will be more unhappy with a big single setback (a broken wrist, a broken heart) than with a lesser chronic one (a trick knee, a tense marriage). You are wrong to assume that job failure will be crushing. You are wrong to expect that a death in the family will leave you bereft for year upon year, forever and ever. You are even wrong to reckon that a cheeseburger you order in a restaurant -- this week, next week, a year from now, it doesn't really matter when -- will definitely hit the spot. That's because when it comes to predicting exactly how you will feel in the future, you are most likely wrong.


A professor in Harvard's department of psychology, Gilbert likes to tell people that he studies happiness. But it would be more precise to say that Gilbert -- along with the psychologist Tim Wilson of the University of Virginia, the economist George Loewenstein of Carnegie-Mellon and the psychologist (and Nobel laureate in economics) Daniel Kahneman of Princeton -- has taken the lead in studying a specific type of emotional and behavioral prediction. In the past few years, these four men have begun to question the decision-making process that shapes our sense of well-being: how do we predict what will make us happy or unhappy -- and then how do we feel after the actual experience? For example, how do we suppose we'll feel if our favorite college football team wins or loses, and then how do we really feel a few days after the game? How do we predict we'll feel about purchasing jewelry, having children, buying a big house or being rich? And then how do we regard the outcomes? According to this small corps of academics, almost all actions -- the decision to buy jewelry, have kids, buy the big house or work exhaustively for a fatter paycheck -- are based on our predictions of the emotional consequences of these events.

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10:54 pm - The Economist on the Playground

For you Steven Landsburg fans out there:

The Economist on the Playground: What My 10-Year-Old Daughter and I Taught Each Other About Economic Justice

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