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How to Set Goals That Lead to Happiness — Jennifer Aaker research that we do not know what will make us happy

Stashed in: Smile!, #happiness, Goals!, Intuition, Happiness, @aaker

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To investigate these ideas, the researchers carried out a series of six experiments.

In one experiment, participants were divided into two groups and each formed a slightly different type of goal:

  • One group formed the goal of making someone happy,
  • Another group formed the goal of making someone smile.

One of the study’s authors, Jennifer Aaker, explained:

“Although the desire for personal happiness may be clear, the path to achieving it is indefinite.

One reason for this hazy route to happiness is that although people often think they know what leads to happiness, their predictions about what will make them happy are often inaccurate.”

In a final experiment they tested people’s intuitive guesses as to which type of goal would make them feel happiest.

The researchers found that:

“…participants appear to be wrong in two ways. [..] participants incorrectly predicted no difference in personal happiness between the concrete and abstract goals.

When considering both conditions (i.e., both goals) simultaneously, they believed that the abstract prosocial goal would lead to greater happiness than the concrete prosocial goal—the exact opposite of the results in the prior experiments.”

No wonder, then, that striving for happiness can be so problematic, if intuitively we have little understanding of what will make us happy.

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