Happiness Increased Productivity, Says Research

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Summary: Research subjects that watched a short comedy clip performed better on math tests than ones that didn't.

- A cause and effect link between happiness and productivity might have been strengthened by the study.

Researchers at the University of Warwick and IZA Bonn conducted a study using 565 test subjects. In their study paper titled, Happiness and Productivity, they say they found evidence there is a causal link between happiness and productivity. Specifically, they said in the group of test subjects that were exposed to an experience to make them happier, these people had 10-12% greater success on certain tests.

There were a number of different aspects to this research study. First, there was a questionnaire when a research subject came to their office, with questions like, "How would you rate your happiness at the moment? Please use a 7-point scale where 1 is completely sad, 2 is very sad, 3 is sad, 4 is neither happy nor sad, 5 is fairly happy, 6 is very happy and 7 is completely happy."

Then some test subjects were shown a 10- minute clip of comedic sketches featuring a known comedian, or a calm clip with no comedy, or no clip at all. Another questionnaire was given to those subjects that saw the comedy clip. Also, tests in basic math were given. The group that watched the comedy clip performed about 10% better on the math tests than the  groups that did not watch it.

Other test subjects were asked to report about bad life experiences, or what the study called' shocks' such as personal losses involving bereavement. In this group, it was reported the subjects did not do  as well on the math tests. (The researchers critiqued their own findings by saying these lower scores may not be representative of a cross-section of society, because the test subjects were mainly elite university  students, so the sample was skewed.)

A possible critique of the study is that scores on math tests may not be that indicative of productivity in real-world work situations, possibly due to the fact most jobs are not primarily focused on completing math exercises. Perhaps another research study could  focus on real workers completing typical tasks in a variety of actual work spaces.

A different research study indicated there are four important things for workplace happiness:


- Letting employees be themselves/encouraging their interests

- Family time

- Wellness

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