Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Data on people's self-reported 'experienced' well-being could help inform policies

Date:
December 4, 2013
Source:
National Academy of Sciences
Summary:
Gathering survey data on "experienced" well-being – the self-reported levels of contentment, joy, stress, frustration, and other feelings people experience throughout the day and while engaged in various activities -- would be valuable to inform policies, says a new report.

Gathering survey data on "experienced" well-being -- the self-reported levels of contentment, joy, stress, frustration, and other feelings people experience throughout the day and while engaged in various activities -- would be valuable to inform policies, says a new report from the National Research Council. In particular, data on specific actions intended to improve the living and working conditions of different population groups, including children or older adults, show promise in developing policies and practices in such areas as end of life care, commuting, child custody laws, and city planning, to name a few.

"The most compelling case for gathering data on experienced well-being is to identify particular populations that are suffering and to shed light on ways to alleviate that suffering," said Arthur Stone, chair of the committee that wrote the report and distinguished professor of psychiatry and psychology at Stony Brook University. Yet, because some methodological issues still need to be resolved, he noted, questions that gauge experienced well-being should initially be included in government surveys on an experimental or pilot basis.

The report was requested by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council, which asked the National Research Council to assess whether measuring experienced well-being has value for informing policy. Interest in measuring self-reported or "subjective" well-being has grown in recent years, as some policymakers and researchers have doubted whether traditional economic measures, such as gross domestic product, can by themselves adequately reflect the quality of life of a population or country. However, the committee that wrote the report expressed skepticism about the current usefulness of aggregating data on self-reported well-being into a single number meant to track an average happiness level of an entire population.

The report focuses on experienced well-being -- moment-to-moment, hour-to-hour, and day-to-day feelings of pleasure, contentment, anxiety, pain, etc. -- but it cautions that well-informed policy decisions also need to consider other "evaluative" and "eudaimonic" aspects of self-reported well-being. Evaluative well-being reflects a person's assessment of his or her overall life satisfaction. Eudaimonic well-being refers to a person's perceptions of purpose, and the meaningfulness (or pointlessness) of the activities he or she is engaged in and of overall life quality. An activity can rate highly in one area and low in another. For example, time caring for children is typically reported as being more meaningful than pleasurable; in contrast, the opposite is true for other activities, such as watching television.

Which aspects of subjective well-being are most relevant and important to measure depend on the policy question to be addressed, the report says. For example, in studies of housing conditions or patient outcomes associated with medical treatment, moment-to-moment measures of both emotions and sensations such as pain, cold, or fear may be especially relevant. Using methods that capture details on activities and time use -- what activities respondents were engaged in when they felt a certain way -- often enhances the policy relevance of data on experienced well-being, the report says.

Several government and private surveys already include questions on experienced well-being, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. The report identifies many more specialized government surveys -- such as the American Housing Survey and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics -- that are candidates for inclusion of experienced well-being questions. Questions could also be considered for inclusion on a pilot basis in the broader population surveys of the federal statistical agencies, as they have been in the U.K.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Academy of Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arthur A. Stone and Christopher Mackie. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. The National Academies Press, December 2013

Cite This Page:

National Academy of Sciences. "Data on people's self-reported 'experienced' well-being could help inform policies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204123744.htm>.
National Academy of Sciences. (2013, December 4). Data on people's self-reported 'experienced' well-being could help inform policies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204123744.htm
National Academy of Sciences. "Data on people's self-reported 'experienced' well-being could help inform policies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204123744.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins