Researcher Matt Killingsworth designs studies that gather data on happiness. One takeaway? "A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind."

Why you should listen

While doing his PhD research with Dan Gilbert at Harvard, Matt Killingsworth invented a nifty tool for investigating happiness: an iPhone app called Track Your Happiness that captured feelings in real time. (Basically, it pings you at random times and asks: How are you feeling right now, and what are you doing?) Data captured from the study became the landmark paper "A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind" (PDF). 

As an undergrad, Killingsworth studied economics and engineering, and worked for a few years as a software product manager -- an experience during which, he says, "I began to question my assumptions about what defined success for an individual, an organization, or a society." He's now a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar examining such topics as "the relationship between happiness and the content of everyday experiences, the percentage of everyday experiences that are intrinsically valuable, and the degree of congruence between the causes of momentary happiness and of one’s overall satisfaction with life."

Matt Killingsworth’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Matt Killingsworth


The power of daydreams: 4 studies on the surprising science of mind-wandering

November 5, 2012

[ted id=1607 width=560 height=315] What makes us happy? It’s one of the most complicated puzzles of human existence — and one that, so far, 87 speakers have explored in TEDTalks. In today’s talk, Matt Killingsworth (who studied under Dan Gilbert at Harvard) shares a novel approach to the study of happiness — an app, Track Your Happiness, […]

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