New data science research shows how we manage our long-term happiness

Scientists use an app to analyse behaviour and showed how humans routinely sacrifice their short-term happiness for their long-term welfare. Most theories of motivation have championed the pleasure principle, where our choices of daily activities aim to maximize our short-term happiness. However, it was not clear to researchers how to reconcile this idea with the fact that we all have to engage routinely in unpleasant, yet necessary activities. To address this question a team of researchers, including an Imperial academic, developed a smartphone application to monitor in real-time the activities and moods of approximately 30,000 people. The team found that, rather than following the pleasure or hedonic principle, people’s choices of activities instead consistently followed a hedonic flexibility principle, which shows how people regulate their mood. Specifically, the model shows…


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