Text-based project set to gauge the nation’s happiness

It’s going to be some test of our mettle. Whether Irish eyes will be smiling through what passes for an Irish summer, the fiscal treaty referendum and the Euro 2012 campaign will be measured over the next six weeks.

As part of the largest ever national experiment on Irish happiness, Trinity College, in partnership with the Science Gallery and Vodafone, are calling on 5,000 volunteers from around the country to put their happiness levels to the test.

Volunteers have until midnight on May 23 to freetext the word mood to 50123 to take part in the experiment.

The study will be carried out entirely by text and the results will be revealed over the summer.

The text survey will run as part of the ‘Happy’ project taking place in the Science Gallery in Dublin which is running until June 3.

The project will explore the nation’s happiness through real experiments in conjunction with TCD’s psychology department. The results will feed into genuine research being carried out in the university exploring the nature of happiness.

Programme manager at the Science Gallery, Lynn Scarff said “It’s about doing experiments in a public space. So for this show, we brought in the School of Psychology; we have over 12 experiments developed by a variety of researchers in there looking at a whole myriad of issues which affect our happiness.

“One experiment is looking at relationships and the importance of relationships to our happiness.

“Another experiment is testing that age-old question about whether a sense of humour makes you more attractive, so a lot of people will be interested in the results of that one.”

Ms Scarff said the experiments are carried out by methods routinely used in the neuroscience and psychology fields and would engage the public in a unique way.

“The reports show that Ireland ranks within the top 10 in 156 countries in the world in terms of happiness. So why is that? Is it because Irish people have a tendency to say ‘Oh I’m grand’ or is there something else there.

“Happy is very complex and has a lot of different factors and we are trying to discover what all those individual factors are,” she said.

* More information at www.sciencegallery.com/happy


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