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photo: Oishi Professor Shigehiro Oishi
Professor of Psychology at Virginia

Understanding the effect of policy on national wellbeing

March 2017
Despite dozens of years of research, we still know precious little about what policies increase national wellbeing.Response
Most policies are not thoroughly examined in terms of self-reported well-being before being implemented. Researchers do their best to find a natural experiment, but more systematic research with the help of policy makers is needed.Agree

In order to find out what raises national wellbeing, we need to have thousands of randomised controlled trials in all major areas of national policy.Response
Although it is ideal to conduct randomised controlled trials, it would be probably too costly to do so. Disagree

Organisational structures on workers' wellbeing

January 2017
Employees in more hierarchical organisations have higher levels of wellbeing than those of flatter organisations.Response
Most people probably say that they would be happier in flatter organizations than hierarchical organizations. But, I think this is an affective forecasting error. If someone knows what she needs to do, is motivated to do, and know how to do, a flatter organization will work very well (Because this person does not need a lot of instructions from the above). In contrast, if someone does not know what she is supposed to do, is not motivated to do, or does not know how to do it, then a flatter organization might be a disaster. Job autonomy is of course great, but uncertainty that sometimes comes with job autonomy is not great. So, I think this depends very much on the person-organization fit.Neither agree nor disagree

Tilting the tax and subsidy mix in favour of more hierarchical organisations (in a revenue neutral manner) would probably improve the wellbeing of employees.Response
Because I don't think that one type of organization is in general superior to the other, this policy does not make any sense to me.Neither agree nor disagree

Wellbeing and Public Holidays

December 2016
Do you think that populations on average have higher wellbeing during major festive periods like Christmas?Response
During major festive periods, people on average could be in a better mood than other times. Thus, populations on average *could* have higher well-being. However, empirical research (e.g., Eid & Diener, 2004) found surprisingly small effects of moods on general life satisfaction. A recent study on weather and life satisfaction (Lucas & Lawless, 2013) also found a very small weather effect on life satisfaction. Another reason to doubt the Christmas effect is that some people really love Christmas but others do not. The holiday season is also stressful for a number of reasons (e.g., buying gifts, having to travel). Thus, my guess is that populations on average do not have higher well-being during major festive periods like Christmas than non-festive periods. Neither agree nor disagree

Do you think on balance that average wellbeing would rise if there were more mandatory public holidays in your country?Response
I think population happiness could increase if there were more holidays. 1. having free time is strongly associated with affective aspects of well-being (Diener et al., 2009, a chapter in "International Differences in Well-Being"), 2. people will have more time with family, friends, and others they like; people tend to be happier when they are with others they like than alone (Csikszentmihalyi & Hunter, 2003).Agree