Aug. 1, 2009 British psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman (University of Hertfordshire) invites the public to take part in an ambitious five-day experiment that aims to boost the UK’s happiness. Participants will first rate their mood and then be randomly assigned to one of four groups. People in each group will watch a video describing one of four techniques commonly used to boost happiness, and use the technique during each day of the study. At the end of the experiment everyone will reassess their mood, allowing the research team to identify the most effective way of making people happy.
“I have carried out many mass participation studies, but this is the most important,” commented Wiseman. “Obviously, we are in the midst of a recession and it is vital that people keep their spirits high. This study will help identify the most effective way of putting a smile on people’s faces.” The experiment is also the first to explore what happens when large numbers of people experience a boost in happiness.
Given that people ‘catch’ the emotions of those around them, it is possible that a mass increase in happiness could prove infectious and help cheer up the nation. To test this idea, the researchers have commissioned YouGuv to carry out a representative poll of the UK’s happiness level this weekend and next, in order to measure any effects of the experiment. “We need as many people as possible to take part. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, male or female, or where in the world you live, please participate,” noted Wiseman.
The experiment begins on Monday 3rd August, and those wishing to participate can visit the project website at http://www.ScienceOfHappiness.co.uk at any time during the five day experiment. The results will be announced on Tuesday 11th August. Professor Richard Wiseman has recently written ‘59 Seconds: Think a little, Change a lot’, a book exposing self-help myths, and presenting scientifically proven techniques that help people achieve their aims and ambitions.
Ten tips for happiness
1) Meet up with a friend that you haven’t seen for a while.
2) Watch a funny television programme or film.
3) Exercise for about thirty minutes three times a week.
4) Cut your television viewing by half.
5) Buy experiences not goods - go to a concert, movie, unusual place or strange restaurant.
6) Create novel challenges by starting a new hobby, joining an organisation, or learning a new skill.
7) Go for a 20 minute walk in the sun.
8) Spend ten minutes listening to relaxing or uplifting music
9) Stroke a dog
10) Stop watching and reading the news.
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