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 Russian-built FEDOR was launched on a mission to help ISS astronauts.
Most people think human extinction would be bad. These people aren't philosophers.
- A new opinion piece in The New York Times argues that humanity is so horrible to other forms of life that our extinction wouldn't be all that bad, morally speaking.
- The author, Dr. Todd May, is a philosopher who is known for advising the writers of The Good Place.
- The idea of human extinction is a big one, with lots of disagreement on its moral value.
Picking up where we left off a year ago, a conversation about the homeostatic imperative as it plays out in everything from bacteria to pharmaceutical companies—and how the marvelous apparatus of the human mind also gets us into all kinds of trouble.
- "Prior to nervous systems: no mind, no consciousness, no intention in the full sense of the term. After nervous systems, gradually we ascend to this possibility of having to this possibility of having minds, having consciousness, and having reasoning that allows us to arrive at some of these very interesting decisions."
- "We are fragile culturally and socially…but life is fragile to begin with. All that it takes is a little bit of bad luck in the management of those supports, and you're cooked…you can actually be cooked—with global warming!"