Go on a run, hike through nature, and meditate. These are often touted as the surefire ways to achieve a happier life. But a recent review of numerous happiness studies raises questions about the strength of the evidence behind these happiness hacks. This review comes in light of the “replication crisis” in psychology, where many key studies have failed to be replicated. In response, researchers like Dunigan Folk and Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia have revisited old studies and implemented stricter standards to ensure the validity of new studies.
Folk and Dunn sifted through hundreds of papers to find happiness studies that met these new standards. They focused on studies that involved large sample sizes and were pre-registered, meaning researchers outlined their study plans before conducting them. Despite the abundance of happiness studies, those that met these high standards were scarce. Moreover, the evidence for happiness-boosting strategies like exercise, meditation, and spending time in nature was weaker than expected.
In an interview with Science News, Dunn discussed the importance of studying happiness and the motivation behind their research. She views happiness as the ultimate measure of a fulfilling life and believes that understanding happiness is crucial to our existence. The inspiration for their research came from a journalist’s question about the rigor of studies behind commonly recommended happiness strategies.
To begin their research, Dunn and Folk identified the most commonly recommended happiness strategies by searching phrases like “how to be happy” and analyzing media stories with recommendations. They then combed through the scientific literature to find studies that tested the effectiveness of these strategies and met the modern standards for rigorous evidence. Out of over 500 studies, less than 60 met these criteria.
The key finding of their review is that some widely recommended happiness strategies lack strong evidence. Although strategies like exercise, meditation, and spending time in nature have logical reasons to work, the rigorous evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited. Dunn emphasizes that this does not mean these strategies are ineffective or should be ignored, especially when recommended by professionals for specific conditions. However, for the average person seeking to enhance their happiness, the evidence may not be as robust as believed.
Dunn stresses the need for better understanding and research in these areas, given their widespread acceptance and media dissemination. She likens these strategies to castles in the sky, urging the importance of solid foundations. The review also highlights the few strategies that appear to have stronger evidence, such as gratitude, socializing, and acting more extroverted. Additionally, there is promising evidence that spending money on others and giving to the less fortunate can promote happiness.
In essence, while running, hiking, and meditating may seem like foolproof routes to happiness, the scientific evidence behind them is not as strong as often portrayed. It is vital to approach these strategies with realistic expectations and a better understanding of the current evidence. Further research is needed to truly unlock the secrets to a happier life.
Denial of responsibility! SamacharCentrl is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
Shambhu Kumar is a science communicator, making complex scientific topics accessible to all. His articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to cutting-edge research.