Hedonomics: Bridging Decision Research With Happiness Research

Abstract (Via Booth)

One way to increase happiness is to increase the objective levels of external outcomes; another is to improve the presentation and choices among external outcomes without increasing their objective levels. Economists focus on the first method. We advocate the second, which we call hedonomics. Hedonomics studies (a) relationships between presentations (how a given set of outcomes are arranged among themselves or relative to other outcomes) and happiness and (b) relationships between choice (which option among alternative options one chooses) and happiness.

Excerpt (Via Booth)

A fourth answer has emerged from the behavioral decision literature. This approach seeks to improve the presentations of and decisions about external outcomes without increasing the number or level of the external outcomes per se.We refer to this approach as hedonomics in contrast to economics. A feeling of happiness (or unhappiness) can be classified at least in three different ways: by its emotional specificity, by its domain specificity, or by its temporal specificity. By emotional specificity, we mean whether the feeling of happiness refers to a specific emotion (such as joy or anger) or to a general positive or negative feeling. Research by DeSteno, Petty, Wegener, and Rucker (2000), Gross, Frederickson, and Levenson (1994), and Lerner (2001) distinguishes between types of emotions (e.g., pride, calmness, sadness, anger). Although we are aware of the importance of such distinctions, in the present article we focus on the general positive or negative aspects of feeling, regardless of their specific emotional qualities.

Excerpted Findings (Via Booth)

To create a satisfying wooden-block project, people must be able to predict accurately what a project will look like if they combine the blocks in a particular way and combine the blocks based on their predictions. Likewise, to pursue happiness, decision makers must be able to accurately predict the affective consequences of their options and make their choices based on their predictions. The research we reviewed in this section explores why decision makers fail to make accurate affective predictions and in which situations they fail to act upon their predictions. We believe that the theoretical literature in psychology has been slow to develop a framework for describing the primary modes of evaluation in choice. The existing literature documents many perturbations and biases in choices but lacks a positive account of the elementary processes and strategies that are perturbed and biased. Our review initiates such a framework by proposing a spectrum of modes of choosing. We begin with the most automatic, intuitive, impulsive choices. We then move to the more controlled, deliberate, thoughtful simulation-based and memory-based modes. We conclude with rule- and heuristic- based choices, noting that many of these rules and heuristics are antidotes to impulsive choices. Each elementary mode— impulse, simulation, memory, and rule-based—is associated with signature biases (e.g., myopia, empathy gap, duration neglect, medium-maximization). Our catalog of choice strategies is probably not complete, but we submit that this initial framework of modes of choice provides a useful foundation for future development.

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19. December 2009 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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