Coronavirus update

Important information:
All on-campus visits and events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. Virtual events will be running as normal unless otherwise stated.  For the latest updates visit our coronavirus information page. Please note that some of our on campus events may be replaced by virtual events - please check with the event organiser listed against each event.

Subjective well-being: when, and why, it matters

Wednesday 15 May 2013 (12:00-14:00)
Erik Angner

Professor Erik Angner (George Mason University, US)

Subjective Well-Being: When, and Why, It Matters

This seminar is co-hosted by the Department of Economics


The purpose of this talk is to give a principled answer to the question of under what conditions measures of happiness or life satisfaction, understood as subjectively experienced mental states, can serve as proxies for well-being. According to a widely held view, measures of happiness and life satisfaction represent well-being because happiness and life satisfaction are constitutive of well-being. This position, however, is untenable. Efforts to address this question in terms of Amartya Sen’s capability approach have been similarly unsuccessful. Instead, I argue, happiness and life satisfaction matter because, and insofar as, people want to be happy and/or satisfied; consequently, measures of happiness and life satisfaction can serve as measures of well-being whenever happiness is sufficiently correlated with or causally efficacious in bringing about greater preference satisfaction. While this position entails a less expansive view of the uses of happiness and life satisfaction measures, I maintain that if their proponents were to take this line, many of the objections to their enterprise can be met.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities