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The app that maps happiness

posted 13 Oct 2010, 09:36 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Oct 2010, 13:33 ]
A PhD student at the London School of Economics is looking to garner detailed insight into what makes people happy through an iPhone application called 'Mappiness'.

Technology may not necessarily make us happier, but it can tell us when we are happiest.

This thanks to a new iPhone application built to map happiness in Britain. It's called Mappiness.

It's the work of PhD student George MacKerron.'

 George MacKerron, LSE PhD Student saying :

"When you open it, it asks you a few questions and you agree to take part and tell it what times a day it can beep you and then from then on it beeps you - the default is twice a day - and asks you a few questions. Do you feel happy? Do you feel relaxed? Do you feel awake? I'll say yes to all of those"

The app matches the answers with data from the phone to develop of overview when and where people tend to be happiest.

 George MacKerron, LSE PhD Student saying):

"And when you sign up to the app you also get some details about your own happiness. So it will tell you what day of the week you're happiest on, who you're happiest with and so on in little charts."

Liz Brucks is a dedicated user of the Mappiness app - and she's very happy with the way it's worked for her.

Liz Brucks, Mappiness user saying:

"I realized, maybe if I wasn't feeling that happy when I get the ding, when I actually stop and take stock of - 'am I awake right now? No, I'm exhausted. I had about 4 hours sleep last night. And maybe that's impacting my mood so it's been an interesting insight into what's really making me happy or not."

In total, about 22 thousand people have signed up for Mappiness, contributing close to 1 million responses.

George MacKerron, LSE PhD Student saying:

"So far we've only had a very brief look at the data, but we found that Tuesday is in fact a slightly less happy day than either Monday or Wednesday, and is the least happy day of the week. I found that 8PM on a Saturday tends to be the happiest time. And we've had a quick look at happiness by area of the country. So far, Slough and the City of London have come very low down. Some places in Scotland and Dorset have come at the top of the list."

Brucks says Mappiness has helped her to refine her daily routine.

Liz Brucks, Mappiness user saying:

"I see myself making choices daily to go outside for lunch whereas before I've been known to eat indoors and thinking again more critically about what I do on the weekends and with my free time. But I think ultimately it does add to my overall search about what makes me happy and hopefully tie my career and all of my time to what makes me happiest."

And while 'Mappiness, the happy app' has the ring of novelty to it, MacKerron believes the data he's compiling will offer valuable new insights into the kinds of things that make us feel better. However he does add a word of warning...Mappiness is set for the UK time zone, and does not automatically update when a user travels oversight that has led to the odd grumpy reception when the iPhone buzzes to ask, how are you feeling right now?

Matt Cowan, Reuters