Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas writes:
Every year, the World Happiness Report ranks 146 countries around the globe by their average level of happiness. Scandinavian countries usually top the list, the U.S. falls someplace in the mid-teens, and war-torn and deeply impoverished countries are at the bottom.
The happiness scores come from a survey of life satisfaction, which goes something like this: Considering your life as a whole and using the mental image of a ladder, with the best possible life as a 10 and worst possible as a 0, indicate where on the ladder you personally stand. This question basically gets people thinking about themselves and their resources, accomplishments, opportunities, and status.
But what if this question—versions of which are used in psychological research all around the world—is biased toward certain cultural ideals?
“How can one reasonably conclude that country A is happier than country B, when happiness is being measured according to the way people in country A think about happiness?,” asked the authors of a new study. [Continue reading…]