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.