So a couple of months ago, David Cameron suggested that there should be a UK happiness index to mirror the GDP figures. Now the more astute of you may have realised that there may be a connection between your bloggeratus and the market research industry and I’m rather dreading the attempt to collect this data.
There will be three problems: the difficulty in maintaining trends in ongoing surveys; the political nature of the interpretation (see the British Crime Survey for a great example of noise about data rather than data noise); the understandable desire of the client to want to know ‘why’ rather than than just ‘how much’.
The result will be that if you are asked to take the British Happiness Survey, about half an hour into the process, you will find yourself being asked questions like:
‘Comparing yourself now to a year ago, have the activities of the Charity Commission in your opinion made you’
– Much More Happy
– Somewhat More Happy
– Neither More nor Less Happy
– Somewhat Less Happy
– Much less Happy
– Don’t Know

Anyway Mrs Blog pointed out that some people were made happy by raping people. I think that she was making the point that this sort of happiness was not desirable, but I am more interested in the problem of measuring such happiness.

My solution is to contact a random sample and collect where possible an anonymous blood sample – obviously it has to be very anonymous to deal with our hypothetical rapist. This can then be tested for serotonin levels to provide an accurate trend information on average happiness levels.
The detailed questions as above can then be collected separately from a different sample where they can be treated with the respect they deserve.