Weekly research roundup: Here are the happiest languages and vowels

Happiness research

This is a weekly series on the latest happiness research. Learn and be merry! 

There’s an “i” in happiness – Researchers in Germany found that pronouncing an “i” sound – which contracts your facial muscles into a semi-smile – makes you happier, while an “o” sound – which produces a less chipper facial expression – makes you sadder. They also found that words with “i” tend to be more positive (“like”), while words with “o” tend to be more negative (“alone”).

Talk happy – Researchers from the University of Vermont found that Spanish, Portuguese, and English are the happiest languages. They picked 100,000 popular words from 10 languages and asked 5 million native speakers (total) to rate how positive or negative they are. Although all the languages had a positive bias – more positive words than negative ones – Chinese was the least happy.

Thanks, moms – A study of 315 same-sex couples in Australia found that children to same-sex couples had 6% higher physical health and family cohesion than children to heterosexual couples.

Don’t quit Facebook – A study out of Kansas State University found that people who take smartphone breaks during work report higher happiness and well-being. Using social media apps like Facebook and Twitter has more of a positive effect than playing games. Participants used their smartphones an average of 22 minutes during the work day.

Put up the fence – According to a pan-European study by the UK Office for National Statistics, connections to your community aren’t associated with higher levels of happiness.

Get your priorities straight – According to a study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education of 10,000 middle and high school students, students care more about achievement than happiness or caring for others – and believe their parents and friends do, too.

Beware the big 3-0 – Research has shown that career satisfaction dips in your 30s, and a study out of Australia suggests that it’s because time pressure at work increases (as new recruits ask for help and mentoring) and coworker support wanes (as you compete for promotions).

Adapted photo by Flickr user TobiasMik WhatWeDo

 

 

Weekly research roundup: Women breadwinning isn’t so bad – for the men

Happiness research

This is a weekly series on the latest happiness research. Learn and be merry! 

Breadwinners win some, lose some – A MONEY survey of over 1,000 married adults found that when women make the same or more as men, couples are more in love, happier, and had significantly happier husbands. They speculated that these arrangements are more egalitarian. But overall, women who earn more than their husbands are less likely to say they’re very in love and they worry more about finances.

Avoid the haters – According to a study out of the University of Colorado-Boulder, obesity has a big effect on happiness only when you live in an area where it’s uncommon. If obesity is the norm – and, presumably, you aren’t being judged for your weight – it doesn’t make you much unhappier. Overall, the judgment of others has a greater unhappiness effect on women than on men.

Faster food! – A study from the University of Toronto found that living in an area with lots of fast-food restaurants makes you more impatient and less able to savor pleasurable experiences, like a beautiful hike. And even making people think of fast food in the lab – by showing them a photo – causes them to make impatient decisions, like hurrying through a task, desiring time-saving tools more, and saving less for the future.