Happiness is a matter of perception: study

September 18th, 2008 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 18 (IANS) People tend to judge your level of happiness on the basis of the picture you’ve chosen to represent yourself to the world, according to a study. Queensland’s University of Technology’s (QUT) Benno Torgler asked 554 people to rate the level of happiness of each of the subjects in 12 colour photographs taken from websites.

The photographs were of Nobel Prize winners, top economists and happiness researchers.

“Half of the people had no information on the 12 researchers in the photos. The other half were told that the photographed individuals were ‘happiness researchers’, ‘top economic researchers’ or ‘Nobel Prize winners in economics,” Torgler said.

Torgler said the tongue-in-cheek study focussed on the perception of others rather than self-reporting because the use of perception was common in economics.

“We decided to take the picture each researcher chose to put on his academic homepage as the ‘mirror’ to the outside world because it would be a good proxy for how they see themselves.”

He said economists had investigated the superstar effect of sports and entertainment celebrities and it was time to investigate the superstars of academia, reports Sciencealert.

He said that while a happiness researcher had ranked last in the happiness stakes, overall these researchers were happier than Nobel Prize winners. Another interesting finding of the study was a gender difference.

“Women perceived these researchers to be happier than men did, which is interesting because only male economics superstars were shown,” he said.

The Mirrorstudy was published in the journal Kyklos and co-written with Uwe Dulleck and former student Nemanja Antic.

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