Research

 
 

Happiness Without a Financial Safety Net: Low Income Predicts Emotional Volatility (with Jordi Quoidbach).

Discussions about poverty and economic inequality must be informed by understanding how income shapes people’s wellbeing. Our study suggests that we may have underestimated the impact of money on happiness by misconstruing how they relate to each other. Whereas decades of research may tempt us to conclude that money matters little to how people feel on average, we find that income is robustly related to happiness volatility and moments of acute suffering—two factors that can impose a severe tax on a person’s mental and physical health. With more and more governments focusing on measuring and increasing happiness, policymakers and researchers should not only consider whether we can buy more happiness, but also whether we can buy emotional stability.
 

Work in Progress:

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Heterogeneity in experience sampling approaches poses a threat to reproducibility and scientific progress in the field of affect dynamics. Leveraging a large dataset of 7016 individuals, each providing over 50 affect reports, we introduce an empirically-derived framework to help researchers design well-powered and efficient experience sampling studies. As the ideal sampling approach varies for each affect dynamics measure, we provide a companion R-package, an online calculator, and a series of benchmark effect sizes to help researchers address three fundamental how’s of experience-sampling: How many participants to recruit? How often to solicit them? And for how long?

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In four experiments (including more than 1,300 participants), we systematically studied the effects of boredom on economic risk preferences. Across different risk elicitation tasks, boredom inductions, incentive schemes, subject pools, and using both reduced form and structural analyses, we consistently failed to find an effect of boredom on risky decisions. Using Bayesian techniques, we find substantial evidence in each of our four experiments in support of a zero effect of boredom on economic risk taking. Our results question an important established belief and have substantial implications for economic experiments.

Buying Your Way Out of Monotony: Boredom and Income (with Daniel Navarro-Martinez).

Recent research shows that people not only want a happy and meaningful life, but an interesting one. Therefore, to understand how income shapes well-being, we need to also understand how income shapes boredom. Leveraging a large dataset of over 40,000 individuals across 20 European countries, we show that income is associated with a lower frequency of experienced boredom. Taking a network approach, we show that the experience of boredom is significantly more related to anxiety and depressed mood for low-income individuals.

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More Than a Feeling: Emodiversity Improves Decision-Making (with Jordi Quoidbach and Daniel Navarro-Martinez).

Decades of research demonstrate that the intensity of our emotions (e.g., feeling more or less angry) profoundly shapes our choices. We suggest that the complexity of our emotions (e.g., feeling angry with or without a hint of anxiety) might play another crucial role. Across one correlational study and two preregistered experiments, we show that high emodiversity – experiencing a wide variety of emotions in relatively equal proportion– improves decision outcomes, reduces known decision-making biases, and leads to higher choice satisfaction. A large experience-sampling study further suggests that the daily experience of rich and balanced emotions can compound into more satisfying lives.