Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Brexit makes us happier – official!

Yes, despite all the remoaners and the continued onslaught on Brexiteers by the BBC and others, official government figures from the ONS show that on three key measures we are happier than before the referendum!

Ipsos Mori asked three key questions as part of the ONS household personal well-being survey: How happy are you? How satisfied are you with life? and How worthwhile do you feel?

Not only did people score higher on all three but there was a 4% increase in people who felt very happy. And this despite the political uncertainty and terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. Shows how resilient we are.

There was however an increase in scores of anxiety and the results only apply to England. The Scots showed no change in their scores. Hard to please up there.

The researchers also asked if people thought they would be better off leaving the EU. Last October 26% said to would make no difference. In March that figure rose to 40%. The ONS thinks people are becoming more relaxed about Brexit.

Academic “remoaners” and the BBC take note!

Local data: In Burnley, Lancashire, they are happier than the national average and 10% happier than last year. Check out your own local scores here.

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Happiness is being cash rich

Yes, rich enough to employ other people to do the stuff you don’t like doing – like cleaning.

A study of 6,000 people in the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and the USA asked people how much they spent outsourcing disliked tasks.

Despite the vague description people didn’t hesitate to identify scrubbing the toilet bowl as their least favourite task.

The researchers also gave 60 people $40 to spend on two occasions. On one weekend they had to buy a material product and on another they had to buy something that would save them time.

In all cases people were happier spending money to save time, such as taking a taxi home. People with less money were even happier. So ideal for the cash rich and time poor.

The Professor who ran these studies has since employed a host of domestic services and moved house to cut down commuting time and spend more time with her partner.

What happened to the protestant ethic?

Other post on happiness


British teenagers are among unhappiest in the world

119460-117532Only teenagers in Japan suffer lower levels of mental wellbeing.

Generation Z – those aged 15 – 21 – are happier in France, Germany, Nigeria, Turkey, China, the US, Indonesia, and Russia.

Anxieties about money, school and succeeding in life is what is undermining the mental health of teenagers in the UK.

However young Brits are considerably more enthusiastic about their country than most with more than 2 out of 3 saying it was a good place to live.

While teenagers in Germany and Canada rated their countries higher than UK teenagers , in France only half thought their country was a good place to live and only a quarter in South Korea.

The Varkey Foundation educational charity questioned more than 20,000 children around the world about their confidence, optimism, ability to deal with problems, decisiveness and friendships.

Extremism and the rise of global terrorism  was what worried British teens the most whereas in China it was climate change.

The findings suggest that British children are stressed and anxious with a high rate of mental illness. They feel stressed by growing up and what is expected of them. Half said that school made them feel anxious, followed by money worries. Four out of ten thought the world was becoming a worse place in which to live.

Only 15% of the teenagers questioned said they had enough time to sleep, relax and exercise – factors associated with wellbeing, Well perhaps if they spent less time on social media?

This generation of teenagers hold progressive views about gender equality, equal rights for transgender people, legalised abortion, and same-sex marriage. “Teenagers in Nigeria, Delhi and New York share many of the same priorities, fears , ambitions and opinions. Young people are passionate believers in the right to live the life that they choose, whatever their background, free of prejudice of all kinds”  said the Varkey Foundation’s chief executive.

However they are a generation that is deeply pessimistic about the future of the world


Being miserable might be in your genes

sitting_on_curb_holding_sign_12927Brits, Americans and the French are born to be miserable according to UK research.

People from Britain and America have apparently have a short-form version of a gene that regulates levels of serotonin, the chemical linked to happiness and French people have the shortest of all. No wonder we think of the French as Les Miserables!

The Danes however, who often top the league of happy countries, and the Netherlands have the lowest proportion of people with the short-form version. This means that Americans with ancestors from Denmark would also be happier.

Professor Andrew Oswald’s team at Warwick University looked at 131 different countries. Genetics turned out to be one of the most important factors in determining happiness.

Happiness league tables often take into account job satisfaction, health, wealth, education and political stability. Have a look at the OECD Happiness Index and decide for yourself.


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French now not so miserable? Sacre Bleu!

Almost four years ago I posted about the French being the most miserable race in Europe.

It appears things are changing but not everyone is happy about it, naturally.

9782738129055Apparently the French have found an appetite for self-help books – buying 6 million by over 700 different authors in 2014 – and books promoting optimism such as “And Don’t Forget to be Happy” by psychiatrist Christophe André, “Change for the Better” also written by a psychiatrist the appropriately named Professor Michel Lejoyeux, “I’m Stopping Complaining” by French business consultant Christine Lewicki, and “Become Yourself” by economist Jaques Attali.

Intellectuals, however, are unhappy with these attempts to banish pessimism and negativity as they see this as an American concept unsuited to to the natural Gallic temperament. They would rather their compatriots stuck to Baudelaire’s miserable poetry or Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables rather than adopt the philosophy in Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy“.

An economist, Claudia Senik, says that the French are (still) 20% less happy than their counterparts in other European countries and “are in a spiral of self-fulfilling pessimism. They have a very high social ideal which is unreal and unrealistic and in fact this makes them unhappy“.

Many people are saying that the search for happiness is a delusion only likely to produce further misery.While you mull that over have a listen to Pharrell Williams

And if you are female and want to be more like French women read how to do it here

 


London – love it or hate it

P1000602 - Version 2First the good news: London is apparently the world’s best city in which to work.

In a poll of almost 200,000 people in nearly 200 countries, one in six people said they would like to work there. And the UK as a whole came second to the USA although no other city in UK came in the top 40 world-wide .

Brits aren’t as keen to work abroad as other nationalities – only 40% of us compared to 2/3 from other countries according to the Boston Consulting Group and TotalJobs recruitment website. Those who do prefer the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and France. The UK attracts workers from Portugal, Israel, Barbados, Romania and Jamaica.

The international director at TotalJobs said “This report cements London’s position as a truly global city. Not only does it offer a wealth of job opportunities min a range of industries but it boasts some of the world’s top cultural attractions so it’s no surprise that people across the globe want to come and work here.”

London is the only city in Britain to enjoy such popularity based on its high salary prospects, cultural diversity and the finance industry. In America seven cities vied for job attractiveness.

The other 9 cities in the top 10 are (in descending order):

  • New York
  • Paris
  • Sydney
  • Madrid
  • Berlin
  • Barcelona
  • Toronto
  • Singapore
  • Rome

Secondly the bad news. While London may be a magnet for jobseekers from around the world people who live there report the highest levels of unhappiness, dissatisfaction with life, and anxiety than almost everywhere else in Britain.

The nation as a whole feels happier in 2014 than at any time since 2011, thanks largely to the improving economy, with those in the SouthEast, east Midlands, and the NorthEast of England registering the highest levels of life satisfaction.

Although scores have improved Londoners still score lower on every measure. Only 1 in 3 of them said they rarely felt anxious or stressed compared to half the population elsewhere in the country.

The London boroughs of Lambeth and Barking & Dagenham are in the “misery” top five while Hackney has the highest levels of anxiety.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says its research suggests there are drawbacks to living in the capital despite its economic success.

The statisticians point out that population density is a negative factor and the age profile influences the findings with middle-aged adults with children feeling unhappier than younger people.

They also point out that the increase in well-being scores in London may be influenced by expectations of future events as the economic benefits have not yet filtered down into pay packets.


Facebook is for losers

figure_bed_computer_1600_wht_14033Most people who use Facebook do so to add positive updates but generally people who use Facebook tend to be more frustrated, angry and lonely.

This might be because positive updates from their “friends” make them feel inadequate.

Now researchers at Ohio University have discovered that people in a bad mood turn to social network sites and look up people less attractive or less successful than themselves rather than those more attractive and more successful.

Given a choice of profiles to look at on a new social networking link called SocialLink participants who had been put in a negative state of mind – by being given poor feedback on a test – spent more time looking at the profiles of people who were less attractive and less successful.

The message is if you’re feeling bad look for someone who’s feeling even worse and regain your emotional superiority.

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It’s been over a year since I posted about Facebook but my 4 year-old post “So many friends but still lonely” still regularly appears in my top 5 most-read posts so clearly strikes a chord..

My previous post about Facebook was eighteen months ago when I summed up the uses (or mis-uses) of Facebook in “Facebook Follies“.

But there’s so much stuff out there about Facebook it’s hard to keep up.