Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happiness is. . . . .

From the new mag, Miller-McCune:
What was once an internal monologue has broadened far beyond Kasser's research subjects and daily affairs. He has haltingly begun to wonder aloud about what kinds of laws, and even what kinds of political systems, might make people happiest, venturing outside the laboratory and classroom to assume a role that once made him very uncomfortable: political activist.

Kasser is among the loudest in a growing chorus of academics who are boldly — and, some say, prematurely — asking governments to transform the conclusions of the maturing body of happiness science into real-world public policies. They're pushing targeted regulations like limits on advertising to children. They want welfare programs to emphasize mental health. More generally, they hope governments will begin to make decisions with an eye toward citizens' life satisfaction. Governments in Europe and elsewhere have already put these concepts into practice, but even as Americans embrace the research personally by scooping up self-help books, happiness-oriented government in the United States remains far from a reality.

. . . . . .

Sometime around 1991, Kasser ran the regression that changed his life. Kasser, then a master's candidate in psychology at the University of Rochester in upstate New York, was studying people's goals, using a primitive tool he'd dubbed the "aspiration index." It asked subjects about their future lives and how important it was for them to be, for example, financially successful or involved in an intimate relationship.

After he'd collected the data, Kasser sat in front of the computer, searching for associations within the numbers. Several questions related to material goods, and a few asked subjects how they felt. Wow, Kasser wondered, wouldn't it be cool if people who cared about money were less happy? He assembled an equation, hit return and then waited. The result: a significantly negative correlation. After taking into account all of a subject's aspiration scores, the more materialistic the person, the less likely he was to be happy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

WSSW Student in the NYT

Wurzweiler School of Social Work PhD candidate Alison Link talks about her work in the New York Times
Q. Why should we care about our relationship to leisure?

A. Too often, leisure time that is not used in a satisfying way turns into idle time, or is used to do a single thing to excess (like overeating, or getting into family quarrels). It can even turn negative, which is what happens often in the cases substance use, delinquency and criminal activity. Also, wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t define ourselves by our work? It should be just as valid to define ourselves by our leisure.

Q. A lot of your academic and field work focuses on at-risk, incarcerated and post-incarcerated populations. Why is leisure so significant for these populations?

A. Many people in at-risk populations have a lot of stress, pressures, risk-taking behavior, boredom and/or idle time. They may have, or perceive that they have, limited options or resources.

There is an opportunity to use leisure in a negative way while living on the street but also while in prison. Approximately 95 percent of people who are incarcerated in the United States are released and return to society at some point. This transition from incarceration to a life free from both crime and incarceration is a challenge for the more than 10 million people in the United States returning to society each year. Out of the more than 650,000 people returning from prison annually into the community, two-thirds are rearrested and half are reincarcerated. This affects not only these individuals’ lives but also those of their families, children, communities and society.
Read the rest. . . .More here. . . 

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sixty-One Percent

From the APA:
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) today released a study conducted by Harris Interactive® that shows stigma may still play a significant role in preventing many military members and military spouses from obtaining the mental health care they need. The survey shows that six in ten military members (61%) think that seeking help for mental health concerns would have at least some negative impact on their career. In addition, about half of military members (53%) believe that others will think less of them if they seek help for mental health concerns.

A unique characteristic of this survey is that military spouses are given a voice, and share their perceptions of mental health issues, understanding, and treatment. “It’s important to remember that the mental health trials that service members experience can have a ripple effect throughout their immediate family while they are serving and upon their return home,” said Carolyn B. Robinowitz, M.D., president of the American Psychiatric Association.

While respondents generally rated their overall mental health as good or excellent (including 71% of military members and 75% of military spouses), many report regularly experiencing common symptoms of mental illness. This includes nearly half (48%) that report difficulty sleeping at least twice a week and about a third (34%) that report a lack of interest in daily activities at least twice a week. The majority of spouses also reported a lot or a little stress from handling domestic issues alone (60%) and single parenting (54%).

In addition, respondents reported low levels of knowledge when it comes to common warning signs of, and treatment options for, mental health issues that may result from being deployed to or serving in support of a war zone. The survey showed that about half of military members (49%) and military spouses (53%) say they are somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about the warning signs of mental health concerns from such service and about 6 in 10 military members (59%) and two thirds of military spouses (66%) say they know little or nothing at all about effective treatments that exist for mental health concerns that may arise from serving in a war zone.

“Of particular concern is the fact that over a quarter of military members (26%) and about a fifth of military spouses (18%) say they know nothing at all about effective mental health treatments for issues that may arise from their service in a war zone,” said Dr. Robinowitz.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

More on Worldwide Food Crisis

A good set of links thanks to Poverty Law Prof.  Worth a look.