An American psychologist whose work inspired David Cameron’s plan to measure national wellbeing has warned that the UK Prime Minister might be trying to measure the wrong thing.
Professor Martin Seligman – quoted in The Guardian – said that the focus on measuring people’s happiness, as an alternative to cold economic measures of progress like GDP growth, may be misguided. Instead, a better measure of a successful society might be the ability of its citizens to “flourish”.
“What humans want is not just happiness,” he said. “They want justice, they want meaning. An interesting example is that there is quite a bit of evidence that says people’s mood isn’t as good once they have children. If [happiness] were all people were interested in, we should have been extinguished a long time ago.”
Questions on wellbeing started appearing on the Integrated Household Survey this month.
Meanwhile, Seligman has a new book – called Flourish – out next month.
How would you measure wellbeing?