Happiness and its Measurement
It is not uncommon, although a somewhat mysterious manifestation of a zeitgeist, that investigators who work independently and in different countries should begin to address similar problems at roughly the same time. Such a case of independent investigation and simultaneous discovery began in the early 1960’s when Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann and I, unknown to the other, began to investigate the application of survey methodology to the study of human happiness. In one sense the underlying questions were similar, that is, the effects of large-scale social and political systems on individual happiness, but the proximal causes were different. In Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s case, it was the observation that people in totalitarian countries looked unhappy as they pursued their everyday concerns; in my case it was the widespread commentaries from intellectuals in a prosperous, free society that the success of the society brought with it a high price in terms of mental illness and anxiety. It was only in the 1970’s that we learned of each other’s work.
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