It is pointed out that the indicators that make Finland the top in happiness are biased towards wealth and power

Finland , located in northern Europe, is known for its high level of happiness among its citizens, having been ranked number one in the United Nations World Happiness Report for seven consecutive years . However, August Nilsson , a doctoral student in organizational psychology at Lund University in Sweden, points out that the indicators used to calculate national happiness place too much emphasis on 'wealth and power.'

The Cantril Ladder elicits thoughts about power and wealth | Scientific Reports

Finland is the happiest country in the world – but our research suggests the rankings are wealth and status-oriented

In recent years, an increasing number of governments are placing emphasis not only on economic growth but also on the 'happiness' of their citizens. The World Happiness Report published by the United Nations provides an opportunity to learn how happy a country is and which countries are among the happiest in the world.

The World Happiness Ranking is based on the results of a happiness survey conducted by Gallup , an American polling company, and is based on a simple yet powerful set of questions called the Cantril Ladder .

The Cantril Scale is a method for measuring life satisfaction and happiness devised by Hadley Cantril , an American public opinion researcher. When using the Cantril Scale in a survey, subjects are generally given the following statements and asked to self-report their happiness:

'Imagine a ladder with rungs numbered 0 through 10 from the bottom to the top. The top rung represents the best possible life for you, and the bottom rung represents the worst possible life for you. Where on the ladder do you think you are right now?'

One thing that bothers me about Cantril's ladder is, 'Does the top rung of the ladder represent one thing?' The object of what one has at the top rung varies from person to person; for some it may be 'money,' but for others it may be 'family.'

Nilsson and his team conducted an experiment to explore the implications of Cantril's ladder on approximately 1,600 British adults. The subjects were divided into five groups and asked to answer the following questions to determine what their best state represented:

◆1: A question that is exactly the same as Cantril's ladder.
◆2: A question in which the metaphor of 'ladder' is removed from Cantril's ladder and replaced with the word 'scale.'
◆3: A question about Cantril's ladder excluding the ladder metaphor and terms such as 'top' and 'bottom.'
◆4: A question that removes the ladder and up and down metaphors from Cantril's ladder, and replaces the phrase 'the best possible life' with 'the happiest life.'
◆5: A question that removes the ladder and up and down metaphors from Cantril's ladder, and replaces the phrase 'the best possible life' with 'the most harmonious life.'

The results of the experiment showed that while the subjects in the '◆1' group tended to associate the metaphor with things like 'power' and 'wealth,' the '◆2' and '◆3' groups, in which the ladder metaphor was removed, began to think of the metaphor as 'economic stability' rather than words like 'wealth' or 'rich.'

Furthermore, participants in the '◆4' and '◆5' groups, which focused on happiness and harmony in life, thought less about power and wealth than the other groups. Instead, they tended to think about well-being in a broader sense, including relationships, work-life balance, and mental health.

The research team also asked subjects where they wanted to be on a scale from 0 to 10. Researchers often assume that subjects will naturally want to be at 10 on the Cantril scale, but as far as Nilsson knows, no one has actually investigated this.

The survey results showed that the majority of subjects in none of the groups chose '10,' and that the most desired position was '9.' In addition, in the '◆1' group, where the subjects were asked to choose the Cantril scale, the majority of subjects chose '8,' not '9.'

Nilsson points out that the reason why the subjects wanted '8' on Cantril's ladder, which is lower than '10' or '9', is because the metaphor of the ladder made them think about power and wealth. In other words, people may have thought that 'in order to gain power and wealth, you have to sacrifice relationships, mental health, work-life balance, etc.' and may not want to sacrifice them to reach '10'.

The results of this study do not necessarily indicate that Finnish people are unhappy. However, they do suggest that the Cantril scale used in the World Happiness Report may be an indicator that is biased toward 'power' and 'wealth' rather than a broader sense of well-being or happiness.

'Our findings raise questions about what kind of happiness researchers want to measure,' Nilsson said. 'What people think happiness is is not something researchers can decide for themselves. That's why researchers have to ask people about their concept of happiness.'

in Science, Posted by log1h_ik