FEATURE15 August 2016

Building blocks of happiness

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UK — It’s easy to assume life was simpler, and happier, for the younger generation in the pre-internet good old days, but a research project by 2CV, among 16- to 18-year-olds, points to a generally happy generation.

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The popular image of teenagers is of moody, uncommunicative, introspective individuals enduring a rollercoaster of emotions. But as anyone who spends any time with young people will know, this is not the whole story. 

How happy they are, however, is a moot point, especially from an adult perspective – which is why research into happiness among 16- to 18-year-olds, by integrated consumer market research agency 2CV, makes such interesting reading. 

The agency combined quantitative and qualitative research: 500 girls and boys across the UK took part in its 10-minute, mobile-enabled survey – which had integrated behavioural science techniques to elicit impulsive, implicit feelings – and 14 young people took part in week-long auto-ethnographies. The research pointed to young people, by and large, being happy. Generally speaking, 44% feel high levels of happiness, 43% feel mid levels of happiness, and 13% feel low levels of happiness.

However, happiness is neither fixed nor stagnant at this age. Jane Goldthorpe, research director ...