A new report from the National Research Council says gathering survey data on “experienced” well-being – the self-reported levels of contentment, joy, stress, frustration, and other feelings people experience – would be valuable to inform policies and practices in such areas as end of life care, commuting, child custody laws, city planning, and more.
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 aggregating data on self-reported well-being into a single number meant to track an average happiness level of an entire population. Which aspects of subjective well-being are most relevant and important to measure depend on the policy question to be addressed, the report says.
The interactive Life Lab exhibit at the Koshland Science Museum challenges you to explore the human brain, learn about wellness at different life stages, and share your viewpoints on happiness and aging. Explore online or in person.