Track Your Happiness

post by Matt_Simpson · 2011-05-04T02:59:47.067Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 10 comments

Track your happiness using your iphone:

For thousands of years, people have been trying to understand the causes of happiness. What is it that makes people happy? Yet it wasn’t until very recently that science has turned its attention to this issue.

Track Your Happiness.org is a new scientific research project that aims to use modern technology to help answer this age-old question. Using this site in conjunction with your iPhone, you can systematically track your happiness and find out what factors – for you personally – are associated with greater happiness. Your responses, along with those from other users of trackyourhappiness.org, will also help us learn more about the causes and correlates of happiness.

Seems like a no-brainer to use this to me, at least if you have an iphone. For those with a droid, according to their twitter feed:

the next item on the roadmap is to make track your happiness available to as many people/phones as possible.

Despite being a really cool app for managing your happiness, this is just a great idea for doing research. Now I want to take advantage of the large iphone/droid user base to learn about people in some way. Any ideas?

10 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2011-05-04T06:06:48.317Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I was recently running a similar iPhone app called mappiness, which is associated with a research project from the London School of Economics that appears to be all but identical to Track Your Happiness.

A couple of days ago I deleted it, because I found myself unable to give meaningful answers to the three questions it asks, of how happy, relaxed, and awake I am. I ended up with a couple of hundred sample points which, however plotted, looked like random noise.

comment by jimmy · 2011-05-04T17:39:53.498Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I had a similar experience with this Track Your Happiness thing.

It ended up becoming annoying to answer the questions, in part because it seemed that my happiness level was almost always the same within measurement error.

The only information that came out of it was that I'm happier when I'm doing what I want to do- and I already knew that.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-05-04T10:02:56.847Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A couple of days ago I deleted it, because I found myself unable to give meaningful answers to the three questions it asks, of how happy, relaxed, and awake I am.

You don't just feel like @#%# or surprisingly happy? Those are the sort of things that we can hope to trace the causes for.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2011-05-04T11:41:18.317Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You don't just feel like @#%# or surprisingly happy? Those are the sort of things that we can hope to trace the causes for.

No. I can feel that way about particular events or situations, but people seem to be describing a free-floating pervasive mood that goes up and down without their knowing why, and that is not something I experience. Maybe I'm naturally in some sort of Buddhist or Stoic state of enlightenment, but it doesn't feel like it. Or maybe it comes from the personal development courses I took a long time ago.

comment by Miller · 2011-05-04T14:54:51.798Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can feel that way about particular events or situation

I think that is a representation of your emotional state.

To me it's the nature of the unforced content of thoughts that flow through your mind. These are being selected out of a vast universe of possible thoughts, thus there is meaning in which ones are chosen. We examine facts about the world and rotate them in various perspectives and when we're happy they take on more positive characteristics.

Oh my, look at my coffee mug, I've had this thing for 10 years. It's like my good buddy still standing strong.

vs.

My coffee mug is seriously stained. That seems to happen more frequently at its age. I'm gonna have to wash it again.

These are both about the coffee mug. They are more likely to occur in one mood over another. The second one implies a behavioral change is necessary (cleaning the mug more often or getting another one), which I suspect is generally the role of more negative moods. Although the first one might lead to mug cleaning to keep your good buddy shiny, it's an action taken in the present not a judgment about failed actions in the past.

But to determine your mood from them I suppose you need to be able to measure those statements and contrast them against a reference. The reference if not somehow made objective, may also be subject to changes according to your mood. So the sample and reference move in parity and the difference between them is noise. Fleeting thoughts are like dreams that don't get retained in memory. It can be difficult to remember precisely how you were thinking at any time in the past, such as to compare different mood states. Just theorizing..

comment by Nornagest · 2011-05-04T03:44:56.165Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a pretty cool idea, and I think I'll try it out for a while and see how it works. About my only reservation has to do with the limited number of parameters they're tracking: all the ones I've seen during the signup process do look like plausible correlates to happiness, but there aren't very many of them, and I think I've seen them all before in happiness research. I think I'd like to see more, to increase the chances of finding some novel correlations; of course, I suppose there's a balance to be struck between granularity and usability.

The sliders in their interface aren't playing particularly nice with my Android, either, but that's a nitpick.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-04T06:33:07.533Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interviewer: "Would you say you are happy"

Monk: "Ha, no I'm not that presumptious"

comment by anonynamja · 2011-05-04T18:46:18.723Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But my reference point for feelings tends to shift over time...

comment by RobinZ · 2011-05-04T14:58:34.219Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've signed up as well - I'll be interested to see how it goes.