OCT 13

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12: OCT 13 - 4. Some Happiness Research


  • Haybron C4, “Measuring Happiness” (10)
  • Gilbert, C2, “The View from in Here” (26)


  • Something on intercultural aspect of wisdom...

Haybron, C4, “Measuring Happiness”

  • We can identify which groups of people are happier and what sorts of things, on average, make people happy.
  • Measures of anxiety and depression are reliable and they measure a kind of unhappiness.
  • Problems:
  • People could read the same question on a H survey, but think of diff meanings of happiness.
  • You might try to find a ratio of + to - emotion. 3:1? But cultures vary in these baseline ratios. (See Argyle).
  • There is reason to think the high % of self-reported happiness is implausible. (?)
  • % of people with depression and loneliness and stress.
  • Positivity bias or positivity illusion may explain this over-report.
  • We might be better at measuring change in happiness than absolute happiness.

Gilbert, Chapter 2: The View from in Here

  • Twins: Lori and Reba. How to assess their preference to stay together? How would you feel at the prospect of being joined that way? View from inside vs. View from outside.
  • Types of happiness: emotional, moral - good feeling from realizing potential or acquiring virtue - (some elements of H-l), judgement happiness (H-l).
  • How can the twins be happy? What is the role of "objective conditions"?
  • Subjectivity of Yellow, 32. Yellow isnt’ the wavelength of light, it’s the experience, the psychological state. The idea of a preference is tied to something being more pleasant.
  • Nozick's experience machine, 35. Happy Frank - we can’t deny that he might present as having a happy emotional state. (Perhaps goal of this analysis is to see that normal understanding of happiness includes life happiness, virtues, and perfective activities. These can’t be obtained by the experience machine and Frank doesn’t have it either.). This is progress. Lesson: you need to listen closely when people use the word “happy”.
  • 40: How similar are two people's experience of happiness? How would you know?
  • Problem: we don't compare experiences, we compare memories of experiences. You can’t have someone else’s experience.
  • Describer's study on memory of color swatch, 41. What do we access when we make happiness judgements?
  • How reliable is our judgement from one minute to the next?
  • Interviewer substitution studies Daniel Simon's Lab: [1]. Other perceptual aspects, 43-44. The card trick creates the illusion that he guessed your card, but that’s because you only remembered your card.
  • Conclusion: 44-45: read. Not so much about how bad we are at noticing change, but how, if we aren't paying attention, memory kicks in.
  • Happiness scales
  • Language squishing and Experience stretching: Addresses the question: Does the range of my experience of happiness lead me to talk differently about an identical experience (of the cake) as someone else, or does it cause me to experience things differently? (Point about guitar experience (52) -- moving targets problem.)
  • Language squishing hyp: We "squeeze" our happiness scale (language) to fit the range of our objective exp. Same subjective experience of birthday cake, but different label.
  • Consistent with the idea that someone is having the same experience as you from the same event, but labelling it differently because of limited experience.
  • Can’t really say that aren’t as happy as you because they didn’t have your range of experiences. You don’t have theirs either.
  • Experience stretching hyp: We take the range of our objective experience and stretch it to fit our scale.
  • R&L talk about experiences the same as you do but feel something different.
  • Consistent with the idea that someone is having a different experience than you from the same event because of their limited background AND that that experience is a real peak experience because of the limited background experience.
  • Maybe a rich background of experience (exotic experience, diverse or challenging experience, luxurious experience, experience of rarefied environments) "ruins" mundane experience. In which case, absence of peak experiences is not a problem.
  • Drawing the theoretical conclusion: Our relationship to our judgements about happiness is changed by our experience of happiness and vice versa, creating a kind of ambiguity in intersubjective assessments of happiness. There is no “view from nowhere” (as in science). (Top of 53)
  • Small group discussion: Thinking about R&L and "experience stretching" and "language squishing", Is our happiness limited by the limits of our experience? Can enriched experience (luxury, peak experiences, exotic experiences) "ruin you"? Does connoisseurship really pose a risk to happiness? Think of specific cases that may work differently.

SW2: Short writing assignment #2

  • Stage 1: Please write an 600 word maximum answer to the following question by October 18, 2020 11:59pm.
  • Topic: Assessing Wisdom Paradigms: We have been studying three specific wisdom paradigms from Baltes, Carstensen, and Ardelt. Identify specific insights and limits of each paradigm, showing your understanding of each as you do (400 words) and then give your own reasoned answer to these two questions: Is wisdom something that can only be acquired toward the end of the life span or can we abstract from the practices of wise elders and to enhance the cultivation of wisdom at a younger age? What, if any, are the limits of wisdom acquisition in the 2nd quarter?
  • Advice about collaboration: I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes. Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. It's a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file. Put a word count in the file.
  2. In Word, check "File-->Info-->Inspect Document-->Inspect. You will see an option to delete author information.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "AssessingWPs".
  5. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the 1 - Secondary Points dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow and Content areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by October 22, 11:59pm.
  • Use [2] to evaluate four peer papers.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key with saint names in alphabetically order, along with animal names. You will find your saint name and review the next four (4) animals' work.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit. (You will also have an opportunity to challenge a back evaluation score of your reviewing that is out of line with the others.)
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, my scores will be close to the peer scores. Up to 14 points.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [3]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Points.
  • Back evaluations are due October 29th, 2021.