Happiness Formula – Literally a Mathematical Formula

by Sankalan Baidya
Happiness Formula

If someone says you, ‘money cannot buy you happiness, you can prove him or her wrong! Give them the Happiness Formula!

Simply ask him or her to spend some money, enroll in a university and get a math degree! He or she will understand the equation called the Happiness Formula and work out happiness!

Happiness formula? How does it look like? Let us take a look:

happiness formula

We don’t understand a bit of that crap. However, what we do know is that it is the newest and best happiness formula out there in market.

The question is, ‘where is this Happiness Formula coming from?’ As it turns out, the formula already existed in 2014. Though it was actually developed in 2014, the formula has been redone by other mathematicians because the original formula didn’t cover a very vital aspect of happiness.

Dr. Robb Rutledge, who hails from Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and also UCL Institute of Neurology, co-authored a paper which was published here. He and his colleagues found that the original 2014 Happiness Formula ignored the effects of people around a person. The formula only focuses on the happiness of the person being studied. It was this shortcoming that called for revamping the existing Happiness Formula and giving it a new shape.

Experiments That Led to Happiness Formula

As you know, any mathematical formula cannot be derived without conducting experiments. So, Happiness Formula too required experiments. For this purpose, a group of 47 volunteers were selected – both men and women. These volunteers were complete strangers.

They were broken down into small groups. Each group was then put through ‘monetary tests’. One group had to split a small amount of money with a completely unknown person they just met.

The other group was given a small sum of money and were asked to gamble. They could see the amount of money others in the group lost or won. The leftover money was then asked to be split among each other.

Observations of the Experiments for Happiness Formula

Dr. Robb Rutledge found something interesting. He made the following observations:

  • If the money receiver had less money, the money donor was generous. The donor almost always gave away 30% of the money he or she had. This was possibly out of the guilt that the receiver lost money.
  • If the receiver had more money than the donor, the donor gave only 10%. The generosity was lost here because the donor felt envy as the receiver won more money.
  • Everyone was pretty much happy when the money division among them was equal. Also if the money inequality between the donor and the receiver was low, both parties were happy.

These results led Dr. Rutledge and his colleges to arrive at a conclusion. The conclusion was that inequality determines happiness to a great extent. Also inequality determines whether a person will be altruistic or not.

Is Happiness Formula Really Good?

According to the Happiness Formula above and the observations from the experiment, happiness is determined by inequality and our perception towards it. But, is that true? We will like to challenge this concept.

Here are the reasons:

  • The Happiness Formula is derived by experimenting on a very small sample group.
  • The sample is very localized and is from USA. It doesn’t account for hundreds of other countries.
  • The formula makes assumption that happiness is determined by inequality of one variable – money!
  • Money isn’t the only factor that determines a person’s happiness. There are hundreds of other factors that may or may not be measurable. Those factors are not considered here.

So, no matter how good the Happiness Formula is, it does not capture the true essence of happiness and the factors that determine it. Money is important but not the sole parameter that defines life and happiness.

Explanation of the Happiness Formula

Sorry folks, we are not mathematically inclined and hence, cannot give a proper explanation. More than that, we consider this Happiness Formula to be an icon of stupidity. Anyway, in case you still want to know the explanation, here is what Dr. Robb Rutledge has to explain:

“This is the updated equation to predict happiness, where t is the trial number, w0 is a constant term, other weights w capture the influence of different event types, 0 ? ? ? 1 is a forgetting factor that makes events in more recent trials more influential than those in earlier trials, CRj is the certain reward if chosen instead of a gamble on trial j, EVj is the average reward for the gamble if chosen on trial j, and RPEj is the RPE (reinforcement prediction error) on trial j contingent on choice of the gamble. The RPE is equal to the reward received minus the expectation in that trial EVj. If the CR was chosen, then EVj = 0 and RPEj = 0; if the gamble was chosen, then CRj = 0. The variables in the equation are quantities that the neuromodulator dopamine has been associated with in previous neuroscience studies. The additional term w4 relates to advantageous inequality (guilt) when the reward received by the subject Rj exceeds the reward received by the other player Oj, and w5 relates to disadvantageous inequality (envy) when Oj exceeds Rj.
Credit: Robb Rutledge, UCL”

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