The Pursuit of Happiness

4.4 based on 11 ratings

Updated on Mar 18, 2010


Behavioral Science

Grade Level


Difficulty Level




Safety Issues

Adult supervision required when dealing with volunteers.

Project Time Frame

2-4 weeks


This project explores the concept of happiness, and its importance in people’s lives.

Project Goals
  • To define happiness.
  • To discover what factors contribute to a sense of personal well-being.
  • To do a statistical analysis of happiness levels across cultural and demographic segments of the population.
  • To identify how different groups of people value or define happiness.

Materials and Equipment

  • Computer with internet access.
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/craft supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board)


Generally speaking, happiness is a feeling of personal well-being, or contentment. It’s an elusive state of mind that serves as life’s main goal for many people. Researchers have often tried to measure happiness (see link below for an example), but the accuracy of these measurements remains unclear.

Research Questions
  • What is happiness exactly?
  • How can happiness be measured?
  • What factors determine how happy we are?
  • What can we do to become happier?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

A basic knowledge of statistics would be helpful

Experimental Procedure

  1. Read overviews of relevant topics (see bibliography).
  2. Design a questionnaire that asks volunteers how happy they are (not at that moment, but in general), on a scale of 1-10.
  3. Include additional questions regarding age, gender, ethnicity, and anything else that might provide further insight.
  4. Analyze the data.
  5. Interpret findings in a detailed report.
  6. Show results visually using charts and graphs.
  7. Display relevant photos taken throughout the course of the experiment.


Conceptual Statistics for Beginners (Newman, Isadore & Carol, 2005 reprint) Wikipedia article: “HappinessThe Oxford Happiness Questionnaire

Judee Shipman is a Bay Area Educational Consultant and professional writer of quality educational materials.  Her recent writing credits include (a popular and entertaining website about states), and a book called The Portable Chess Coach (Cardoza, 2006), currently available in stores.

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