What is Happiness?
Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research with Tim Wilson on "affective forecasting" investigates how and how well people can make predictions about the emotional impact of future events.
Dan has won numerous awards for his teaching and research—from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. However, he says that his greatest accomplishment is that he appears just before Dizzy Gillespie on the list of Most Famous High School Dropouts.
Dan's research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Scientific American, Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, and many others.
Dan Gilbert: It’s easy to be the world’s foremost authority on affective forecasting when you make up the term yourself.
Affective forecasting, which is what I spend most of my time studying these days, is the process by which people look into their future and make predictions about what they’ll like and what they won’t like. And when you make decisions – whether they’re large ones, about to marry Jim or Charlie, to move to Anchorage or Cleveland, or small ones, like whether to have a donut or a croissant, or wear the red blouse or the green blouse – all of these decisions are predicated on some estimation that your brain is making very rapidly that one of them will feel better than the other one.
How does your brain do that, and how well does it do that? Those are the questions that the study of affective forecasting tries to answer.
Recorded on: June 12, 2007
Gilbert discusses the nature of happiness and his work in affective forecasting, which is the process by which people look into their future and make predictions about what they'll like and what they won't like.
The team seems to have found a way to extend animal lifespan without genetic modification.
- Using specially cultivated embryonic stem cells, scientists generated mice whose cells had extra-long telomeres.
- Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that help protect the genetic information inside.
- Lengthening telomeres in embryonic stem cells could pave the way toward slowing aging without genetic modification.
The results have startling implications about the evolution of psychopathy in humans.
- The researchers asked about 50 male university students to participate in a mock dating scenario.
- Men with more psychopathic traits were seen as significantly more desirable by women who watched videos of the encounters.
- Psychopathic traits may help men to mimic the qualities women are looking for, but it's a short-term strategy that comes at a cost.
We should care about constitutional rights for all, says lawyer and religious freedom scholar Asma T. Uddin. If they are denied for some, history demonstrates how they may be at risk for us all.
- Islam is being challenged as a religion in America today. Opponents claim it is not a religion, but a dangerous political ideology.
- Lawyer and religious freedom scholar Asma T. Uddin challenges that view and explains why it is a threat to the religious liberty of all Americans, not just Muslims.
- In U.S. history, Catholics, Jews, and Mormons have all been "denationalized" as Americans and persecuted for their beliefs. This destructive precedent is a threat to all Americans, across all belief systems.