Want to be happy? Lower your expectations.
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Researchers from the University College London created a mathematical formula that accurately predicts people’s happiness levels. According to the equation, we become happy when events exceed our expectations.
“If you have lower expectations, and you get a reward, you’ll be happier about it” says study co-author Robb Rutledge.
To design the algorithm, Rutledges’s team asked 26 people to undergo a FMRI which playing a gambling game that required them to place bets, spin a wheel and collect as many points as possible. Subjects rated their happiness levels every few rounds as they would win or lose points. To confirm the findings, researchers then used the algorithm in an app and released it to the wild.
“Our expectations were pretty low for the app because we were worried that no one would play it” Rutledge said
It turns out more than 18000 people participated in the app version of the experiment, and the algorithm was proven tobe accurate.
The low expectations of the app’s performance, unsurprisingly, made researchers very happy.
The algorithm, it is thought, could be used to help diagnose mental conditions such as depression, by comparing people’s happiness levels to the algorithms predictions.
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