The psychology student Johanna Wernqvist, at the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University, will soon publish her bachelor thesis “How are you today - and why? Correlations between self ratings on well-being and aspects of everyday life”, where she uses the data collected within the Emotional Cities project to study what makes people happy. Her conclusion is that social activities have a vast influence on subjective well-being.
Among the six factors correlated to the overall question “How are you today?” the most important ones were “Inspiration” (Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient: 0,577), “Family and friends” (0,486) and “Other” (0,603). “Other” is a blank field that users of Emotional Cities can fill in when they rate their emotional state. The most frequently filled in words were “love”, “work” and “weather”. Wernqvist’s summary:
How are you today? The question was asked on a website by the artist Erik Krikortz, and the answers were displayed as a light show on a building complex in central Stockholm, each colour representing a mean of self rated well-being that hour. In this thesis more than 20000 people have rated their subjective well-being on their own chosen occasions, on a seven graded scale. Results from November 2007 were analysed. The most frequent colour was yellow, symbolising slightly better moods than average. The variables with the highest correlation with well-being were found to be “inspiration” and “family and friends”. Lowest were correlations for “sleep” and “physical activity”. The last variable was blank, for people to fill out for themselves. The most frequently used word here was by far “love”, and second to that “work” and “weather”. Summing up the results it seems social activities means most for the subjective well-being.
These are the correlations with the main question “How are you today?” in Wernqvist’s study:
The results can be compared to Alfonso’s study from 1996:
In another table we can see the means for the seven questions. N are numbers of respondents, M are the means, and SD the standard deviations. The highest overall rating has the factor “Family and friends” (5,19) and the lowest “Physical activity” (3,92). The other four factors, as well as the overall question, all have values between 4,36 and 4,83.
It is interesting that we rate the well-being of our family and friends as higher than our own well-being (5,19 vs 4,36). Perhaps we want to see our loved ones as more happy than they are, or we tend to underrate our own emotional state?
It might anyhow benefit our general life satisfaction that we overrate the well-being of family and friends, since this factor - according to Wernqvist’s study - is one of the most deciding for our own well-being. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that we totally misjudge the emotions of others.
The New York trends and innovation company PSFK publishes daily news on their website, which has 400 000 monthly readers. Last week Simon Mainwaring wrote the article “‘Powers of ten’ for the Twitterverse” about the impact of social media in the future. One of Mainwarings examples - together with Twitter, Facebook and Google Wave - is Emotional Cities, which he describes as follows:
‘Emotional Cities’ is the work of Swedish artist, Erik Krikortz that creates multi-layer, visual reflections of the world’s emotional pulse. You simply pick your current emotional state on a seven-level scale, allowing Erik to calculate and plot the average values for different cities, countries and the world in real time. In some cities, their emotional state is even projected on to a light installation, so you can know the emotional temperature of a city as you fly in on a plane. The social potential for this is staggering as it allows individuals, networked groups, entire cities and even countries to track their emotional states and virally affect others.
The light installation in Stockholm had to be switch off already in Mid-January this year, due to construction work. The lights are now temporarily back again at the Hötorget buildings, but not anymore connected to Emotional Cities.
The lights at the Hötorget buildings might be back again in November 2009, or the project will move to other cities. Or why not both at the same time?
Update, 18 March: Today interest for the project was shown from Hong Kong. I will post information when I know more about this.
Due to construction work on the buildings next to the Hötorget buldings (Hötorgshusen) in Stockholm, the light installation needs to be uninstalled tomorrow Thursday. The lights were supposed to stay until February 28, but unfortunately we cannot influence these circumstances. We thank our sponsors for this year: Vasakronan, AMF Pension, AxFast, Ramsbury, Fastighetskontoret and Företagarföreningen Hötorgscity.
Next winter there will be new light installations in different cities. Perhaps in Stockholm again?
Christmas 2008 in Stockholm proved to be an emotional rollercoaster. Whereas people were really happy on Christmas day, emotions were dipping on the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The new year has started rather well though. Keep posting your emotions on Emotional Cities!
Last year people were happy around Cristmas. It will be interesting to see whether this was a coincidence, or if it will be repeated this year again. Perhaps the skyscrapers in Stockholm will be red next week?