I am interested by analytical investigation into the causes of happiness. I've spent some time pondering these questions from a purely analytical perspective in the past, and come to some of my own conclusions...but I'm not going to discuss those here. Rather, I'm going to share with you a list of conclusions that have been drawn by prominent psychologists that relate to happiness as well as the overall human perspective. My hope in creating this thread is that other people can help to contribute additional nuggets of information, because ultimately we can all benefit by understanding how our minds work. GUIDELINES If you have something to share, please state the overall result in a few easy to understand sentences, possible with example, and provide a link that can be traced back to some actual scientific research or credible opinion. To reiterate, 1) Do not simply post links to articles without summarizing the conclusion 2) Do not post your own opinions/musings/anecdotal evidence To kick things off, all of the following psychological facts have been gleaned from the following TED talks by prominent psychologists. I apologize if there's some redundancy here: * if you have the option to change a decision, you will be less happy with the outcome. * if you are forced to make a non-revokable decision, you will be more happy with the outcome (basically the same as above) * if people are asked to make a decision that is difficult, they usually choose the default option instead of making a rational choice. * every time you decide you make a decision about what you like, it literally rewires your brain to like that type of thing more in the future (even if you have memory loss). * almost everyone cheats, but only a small amount relative to the size of what you did honestly. * when a person says they will be honest, they do tend to be more honest as a result * when you see people from your group cheating, it increases the amount you will cheat. * when you see people from an opposing group cheating, it decreases the amount you will cheat. * when you see an option you dont want included for free in something else, it makes you value that thing higher. * when you suffer some loss, after about 3 months you are no less happy than if you hadnt lost (loss of loved one, limb, anything). * people are less willing to pay for something twice than to pay for something after having already lost the same amount of money. * people are more willign to pay for something if it has a lower relative price to its perceived past price (ie, better deal), regardless of the actual value of the item. * people prefer to make less money, increasing over time, than to make more money decreasing over time. * people who can have self control in their desires (as young children) turn out to be more successful people later in life. * people are not willing to spend the time to test the thigns they have confidence in. * people have difficulty choosing between less now, or more later. people tend to be extremely impatient. * people over-estimate their own patience, especially if they are continually reminded of what they want. * if a person knows they already have to wait for something, they dont mind waiting extra for it as long as the extra amount is small relative to the amount they already expect to wait. however, as they approach the future, their opinion changes and they want it more urgently. ie, now is always better, and more is always better. * people overexaggerate the odds based on the specific examples they remember seeing, rather than factual statistics. * people tend to over estimate the present, and under estimate the future. * the more expensive something is, the more people physically enjoy pleasure from it. * People are more satisfied with their choices if there are fewer alternatives. * The more alternatives there are, the more likely people are to be paralyzed and make no choice. The more options, the more you blame yourself for making bad choices. * The more options there are, the more you expect perfection, and the more your hopes are let down. * "The secret to happiness" is having low expectations and exceeding them (ok, I admit this one is just a psychologist's opinion). * people remember hits, forget the misses. you can get someone interested by givin them hits early on. * neuroscientist Brian Knutson has consistently found that the pictures inside our skulls show that the possibility of a payoff is much more stimulating than actually getting one. as a result, people get addicted to looking things up. note: caused by dopamine. References: The following TED talks... Dan Gilbert: Exploring the frontiers of happiness Dan Gilbert: Why are we happy? Why aren't we happy? Dan Gilbert on our mistaken expectations Talks Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code Talks Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our own decisions? Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice And this article: Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous.