Thursday, March 12, 2009

But Not Unhappy Science Friday: Mormons Make the Happiest People!

Well, all right. That's not what the science actually says, but hey if the other studies about antidepressant prescriptions "prove" that being Mormon depresses people then this new survey, known as the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and conducted by Gallup and Healthways, "proves" that being Mormon makes people happy.

As reported by the Associated Press, Utah came out as the happiest place to live based on mental, physical, and economic health. Over 350,000 people were asked questions such as, "Did you smile and laugh a lot yesterday?" and "Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your job or the work you do?" and "Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?" Each answer was assigned a point value with maximum of 100 points possible. Utah scored 69.2. (The lowest ranking state, West Virginia, scored 61.2.)

So, as Becca said, "How's that as a counter to the 'Mormons are the most depressed people' urban legend? Hey, now that you mention it...Hawaii and Wyoming have sizable Mormon populations, too."

In other But Not Unhappy Science news, happiness can spread outward through three degrees of separation. So maybe think of smiling a little extra today--you'll be reaching out to people you've never even met.



Kelly said...

I find it interesting that the highest state scored 69.2, and the lowest state scored 61.2. That's really not that big of a difference. I think it would be interesting to compare American statistics to the rest of the world.

Then if you really want to see if Mormons are more depressed (or more happy), compare worldwide Mormons to other religious groups on a worldwide scale. In such a study, environment, culture, etc would be less a common factor than the religion, so I think the results would be more accurate. And we would not be blaming depression on what may really be American (or Utah) culture, and not just religion.

Elizabeth-W said...

It's interesting to look at suicide rates--they do vary by year.
Alaska frequently has the highest. In 2004 Utah was ranked 9th. In 2005 it ranked 15th.