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Comparing the happiness effects of real and on-line friends.

Helliwell JF, Huang H - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: We find three key results.Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income.Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

ABSTRACT
A recent large Canadian survey permits us to compare face-to-face ('real-life') and on-line social networks as sources of subjective well-being. The sample of 5,000 is drawn randomly from an on-line pool of respondents, a group well placed to have and value on-line friendships. We find three key results. First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being (SWB) even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences. Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner. Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.

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Distribution: Subjective well-being and stress in the Happiness Monitor survey.
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pone-0072754-g001: Distribution: Subjective well-being and stress in the Happiness Monitor survey.

Mentions: The survey’s primary measure of subjective well-being is an 11-point (from 0 to 10) life ladder, based on the question “Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?” This question, also known as Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Ladder, is frequently used in well-being studies, including the recent World Happiness Report [13] and many studies cited therein. We plot the distribution of sample responses in the first panel of Figure 1. The mode is “7” with a quarter of the respondents. The next greatest concentration is “8” with about 20% of the responses. The sample mean is 6.8, significantly lower than for the Canadian ladder responses in the Gallup World Poll, as shown in figure 2.3 of the World Happiness Report.


Comparing the happiness effects of real and on-line friends.

Helliwell JF, Huang H - PLoS ONE (2013)

Distribution: Subjective well-being and stress in the Happiness Monitor survey.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3760892&req=5

pone-0072754-g001: Distribution: Subjective well-being and stress in the Happiness Monitor survey.
Mentions: The survey’s primary measure of subjective well-being is an 11-point (from 0 to 10) life ladder, based on the question “Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?” This question, also known as Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Ladder, is frequently used in well-being studies, including the recent World Happiness Report [13] and many studies cited therein. We plot the distribution of sample responses in the first panel of Figure 1. The mode is “7” with a quarter of the respondents. The next greatest concentration is “8” with about 20% of the responses. The sample mean is 6.8, significantly lower than for the Canadian ladder responses in the Gallup World Poll, as shown in figure 2.3 of the World Happiness Report.

Bottom Line: We find three key results.Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income.Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

ABSTRACT
A recent large Canadian survey permits us to compare face-to-face ('real-life') and on-line social networks as sources of subjective well-being. The sample of 5,000 is drawn randomly from an on-line pool of respondents, a group well placed to have and value on-line friendships. We find three key results. First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being (SWB) even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences. Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner. Findings from large international surveys (the European Social Surveys 2002-2008) are used to confirm the importance of real-life social networks to SWB; they also indicate a significantly smaller value of social networks to married or partnered couples.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus