Effect on Happiness of Happiness Self-monitoring and Comparison with Others: Using the Happiness Indicator

  • Ruut VeenhovenEmail author
  • Arnold Bakker
  • Martijn Burger
  • Pieter Van Haren
  • Wido Oerlemans


The Happiness Indicator ( is a website containing self-help tools designed to make people more aware of their own happiness. The theory behind the tools is that a keener awareness of one’s own happiness helps users find an optimal lifestyle and consequently promotes happiness among its users. Users of the website periodically record how happy they feel on the present day and how happy they have felt over the past month, using the Happiness Comparer. They also have the option of indicating in the Happiness Diary how happy they felt during the various activities of the previous day. Users receive instant feedback in the form of comparisons with their earlier scores and with the average scores of similar participants. In this chapter we assess the effect of using this tool on happiness considering the change in happiness among 5411 users who have participated at least twice. We found that using the Happiness Diary 10 times, results in an average increase in happiness of 2%. Repeated use of the Happiness Diary had a particularly strong effect for those who initially felt the least happy. Use of the Happiness Indicator may have prevented a decline in happiness among our participants, such as observed in the control-groups of 10 studies among self-selected participants in happiness trainings. If so, the net effect of using the Happiness Indicator was about 5%, which is quite substantial and comparable to the short-term effects of real-life events, such as the birth of a first child.


Life satisfaction Mood Self-help e-help Effectiveness Life style Day reconstruction method DRM 



This project is funded by VGZ health insurance company in the Netherlands. The dataset is available for interested scientists. Participation in linked projects is welcome.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruut Veenhoven
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Arnold Bakker
    • 3
  • Martijn Burger
    • 4
  • Pieter Van Haren
    • 5
  • Wido Oerlemans
    • 6
  1. 1.Erasmus Happiness Economics Research OrganizationErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamNetherlands
  2. 2.Optentia Research ProgramNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization, Faculty of Social SciencesErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamNetherlands
  4. 4.School of Economics and Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization EHEROErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamNetherlands
  5. 5.Department of InnovationVGZ Insurance CompanyArnhemNetherlands
  6. 6.Technical University EindhovenEindhovenNetherlands

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