If you’re a card-carrying Conservative party member, does that mean you’re happier than your Orange Crush counterparts? That’s one of the findings emerging from a recent survey of New Zealanders conducted by Auckland-based UMR Research Ltd. A phone poll of 750 Kiwis discovered that more women are happier than men, those without children are happier than those with children, retirees and homemakers are the happiest jobs, that widows/widowers are the happiest marital group and that those who vote National (New Zealand’s right wing party) are the happiest. Here Gavin White, UMR’s research manager, shares more about the recent study.
Q: What are your thoughts on the political leanings and happiness?
A: These findings don’t mean that people who are generally right wing are much happier than people who are generally on the left. In terms of the political spectrum, the happiest group after the firm right (40 percent happy) is actually the firm left (31 percent happy), while happiness is markedly lower amongst the centre right (23 percent happy) and the centre left (10 percent happy).
There seem to be two factors at work here – people who are certain in their political views are more likely to be happy than those in the centre. Plus those on the right are a little more likely to be happy than those on the left. That’s not terribly surprising as we’ve just re-elected a right-wing government. I suspect if we’d asked the same question in a country which had just re-elected a left-wing government, the happiness numbers might have been switched around.
Q: What else from the study stands out to you?
A: One key finding is thinking you’re good looking doesn’t seem to make you happier. But those who think they have below average looks are less likely to be happy.
We had 23 percent of people say they had above-average looks; 10 percent say their looks were below average; and 62 percent say they are average. Twenty-five percent of those who think they are above average are happy, as are 24 percent of those who think they are average.
These of course are a measure of perception. There was no way of verifying whether a participant’s looks were in fact above or below average, so what we were measuring is how respondents feel about themselves.
Q: Overall, what factors do you conclude are strongly linked to happiness?
A: Factors such as:
– Being satisfied with your work/life balance
– Being satisfied with your achievements in life
– Being highly involved in your community
– Being satisfied with your physical fitness
– Being politically on the firm right
The fact that work/life balance is near the top of the list is consistent with previous research, where we found that people often nominate their relationship with their family as one of the key things that makes them happy. One of the key benefits of work/life balance is surely the ability to spend the time you want with your family, and therefore strengthen those relationships.
To find out more about what makes Kiwis smile, look through the full two-part study here.
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