"New research uncovers some
anti-intuitive insights into how
many people are happy - and why"
Compared with misery, happiness is relatively unexplored terrain for social scientists, Between 1967 and 1994, 46,380 articles indexed in Psychological Abstracts mentioned depression, 36,851 anxiety, and 5,099 anger. Only 2,389 spoke of happiness, 2,340 life satisfaction, and 405 joy.
Recently we and other researchers have begun a systematic study of happiness. During the past two decades, dozens of investigators throughout the world have asked several hundred thousand Representative sampled people to reflect on their happiness and satisfaction with life or what psychologists call "subjective well-being". In the US the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has surveyed a representative sample of roughly 1,500 people a year since 1957; the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan has carried out similar studies on a less regular basis, as has the Gallup Organization. Government-funded efforts have also probed the moods of European countries.
We have uncovered some surprising findings. People are happier than one might expect, and happiness does not appear to depend significantly on external circumstances. Although viewing life as a tragedy has a long and honorable history, the responses of random samples of people around the world about their happiness paints a much rosier picture. In the University of Chicago surveys, three in
10 Americans say they are very happy, for example. Only one in 10 chooses the most negative description "not too happy". The majority describe themselves as "pretty happy", ...
How can social scientists measure something as hard to pin down as happiness? Most researchers simply ask people to report their feelings of happiness or unhappiness and to assess how satisfying their lives are. Such self-reported well-being is moderately consistent over years of retesting. Furthermore, those who say they are happy and satisfied seem happy to their close friends and family members and to a psychologist-interviewer. Their daily mood ratings reveal more positive emotions, and they smile more than those who call themselves unhappy. Self-reported happiness also predicts other indicators of well-being. Compared with the depressed, happy people are less self-focused, less hostile and abusive, and less susceptible to disease.
We have found that the even distribution of happiness cuts across almost all demographic classifications of age, economic class, race and educational level. In addition, almost all strategies for assessing subjective well-being - including those that sample people's experience by polling them at random times with beepers - turn up similar findings. Interviews with representative samples of people of all ages, for example, reveal that no time of life is notably happier or unhappier. Similarly, men and women are equally likely to declare themselves "very happy" and "satisfied" with life, according to a statistical digest of 146 studies by Marilyn J, Haring, William Stock and Morris A, Okun, all then at Arizona State University.
Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in boxes 23-30 on your answer sheet.
A Happiness levels have risen since 1967.
В Journals take a biased view on happiness.
С Happiness is not a well-documented research area,
D People tend to think about themselves negatively.
29 What do the writers say about their research findings?
A They had predicted the results correctly.
В They felt people had responded dishonestly.
С They conflict with those of other researchers.
D Happiness levels are higher than they had believed.
30 In the fourth paragraph, what does the reader learn about the research method used?
A It is new.
В It appears to be reliable.
С It is better than using beepers.
D It reveals additional information.
According to the passage, which of the findings below (31-34) is quoted by which Investigative Body (A-G)? Write your answers in boxes 31-34 on your answer sheet.
32 Over fifty per cent of people consider themselves to be 'happy'.
33 Happiness levels are marginally higher for those in the top income brackets.
34 'Happy' people remain happy throughout their lives.
A The National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago
B Arizona State University
С The Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
D Forbes Magazine
E The National Institute on Aging
F The Gallup Organization
G The Government
Complete the summary of Reading Passage 20 below. Choose your answers from the box at the bottom of the page and write them in boxes 35-40 on your answer sheet NB There are more words than spaces so you will not use them all. You may use any of the words more than once.
Our happiness levels are ... ...... by relatively few factors. Affected
List of Words
Stopped Slightly too great
Doubled Significant similar some
Stabilized Remarkably reversed dropped
No Less much affected
Crept up Slowed down more clearly
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