Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1696401
 
 

Citations (2)



 


 



Do People Seek to Maximize Happiness? Evidence from New Surveys


Daniel J. Benjamin


USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ori Heffetz


Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Miles S. Kimball


University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alex Rees-Jones


University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

October 2010

NBER Working Paper No. w16489

Abstract:     
Are subjective well-being (SWB) measures a good empirical proxy for utility? We evaluate one necessary assumption: that people's preferences coincide with what they predict will maximize their SWB. Our method is to present survey respondents with hypothetical scenarios and elicit both choice and predicted SWB rankings of two alternatives. While choice and predicted SWB rankings usually coincide, we find systematic reversals. Furthermore, we identify factors--such as predicted sense of purpose, control over one's life, family happiness, and social status--that help explain choice controlling for predicted SWB. We explore how our findings vary with the SWB measure and the choice situation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48


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Date posted: October 25, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Benjamin, Daniel J. and Heffetz, Ori and Kimball, Miles S. and Rees-Jones, Alex, Do People Seek to Maximize Happiness? Evidence from New Surveys (October 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16489. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1696401

Contact Information

Daniel J. Benjamin (Contact Author)
USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )
635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Ori Heffetz
Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )
324 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL 91905
Israel
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/~heffetz
Miles S. Kimball
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )
611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
734-764-2375 (Phone)
734-764-2769 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Alex Rees-Jones
University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
HOME PAGE: http://https://opimweb.wharton.upenn.edu/profile/26948/

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