We’ve just submitted a project entitled ‘Technology and Happiness’. This piece is the creation of Ario Emaminejad, Natalie He, Matthew Lui, Tracey Wong, Simon Law and Nick Adams.

Technology and Happiness [PDF, 2.3MB, 25 pages]

Introduction

Try picturing what your life might be like without some of the technologies that you have come to take for granted: the mobile phone, the Internet, the car and the television. Do you think you would be less happy than you are now, or would the simpler, slower life result in greater happiness? The effect of constant technological advance on the emotions of human beings is often overlooked or assumed to be positive. In this project we will look at just this relationship: the relationship between technology and people’s happiness.

The inspiration for this project came from a group of three memorial lectures delivered by Professor Layard of LSE. The Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures of March 2003 had the topic ‘Happiness: Has Social Science a Clue?’ and focused primarily on the issue of happiness as a product of simple economic well-being (or not as he argues). In the three lectures Layard begins by asking “Are we getting any happier?” then argues that income does not correlate with happiness, and suggests a reworking of economic policies. He concludes by offering a new goal to replace that of making a wealthier society in his final lecture entitled “How can we make a happier society”. We will take a slightly different approach to Layard’s by demonstrating how various technologies themselves may affect our happiness. The project will be divided into two main parts, the first being an investigation into what makes us happy, and the second concerning how a few chosen technologies relate to our studies on what makes us happy.

The first part of this research project will focus on the conditions that we deem to affect a person’s happiness most. We have gathered together eight so called ‘indicators’ of happiness, conditions or indicators that feeling, we have found some quantifiable conditions that are widely accepted to be strongly linked to levels of happiness in a person. We will use these ‘indicators’ in the second part to deduce the effects of a technology or areas of technology on happiness.

In the second part of this project we will discuss the effect of a few well-known and impacting technologies on happiness. The indicators outlined in part one will be looked at with respect to each technology, in order to build up a picture of how that particular technology might affect people’s happiness. Finally at the end of each mini report into a technology, the overall effect will be evaluated, summarized, and a conclusion as to whether that technology has a wholly positive or negative impact on people’s happiness will be made. At the end of the project we will assess whether or not our technologies tend to have negative impact on happiness, or a positive one, with a view to giving an idea of what kind of future we can expect, and how our lives have been affected so far by technology.

Technology and Happiness [PDF, 2.3MB, 25 pages]

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