UAEU researchers link happiness to social interaction

Researchers at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) have found that well-being is related to health and lifestyle factors. It also fluctuates over the course of the week – people are generally happier when they enter the weekend than when they start the work/school week.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has made it a national priority to improve happiness in the UAE. This cannot be achieved without understanding happiness. Unfortunately, research on happiness in the UAE is very limited. The research bridged across existing knowledge gaps through a large-scale, mixed-method study that uses state-of-the-art, culturally-sensitive and innovative methodologies.

The research was conducted in two parts. The first part consisted of an online questionnaire that was distributed to 163 undergraduate female Arab students. This survey was about well-being, as well as health and lifestyle factors. According to Dr. Sarah Rasmi, assistant professor of psychology and counseling and lead author on the study, “Results indicated that people who sleep well, exercise, and report good physical health are generally happier than those who do not. Similarly, people who reported a lot of stress tended to be less happy”

The second part consisted of a two-week audio daily diary. A subset of 99 participants reported their life satisfaction for that day, as well as their happiest and least happy moments through audio recordings. Dr. Tim Daly, associate professor of marketing, said, “The happiest days were Wednesday (last day of classes for the week) and Friday (Muslim holy day). Saturday was the least happy day (end of the weekend).”

“The happiest moments of each day often centered around social interaction. This is consistent with previous research, including the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has found that happiness is most strongly predicted by strong social networks,” says Dr. Rasmi.

Undergraduate students were also co-authors for this research and included Sara Alkamali; Mahra Al Dhaheri; Faiza Almarzooqi and Bayan Hasan.

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Dec 13, 2017