IEEE’s Institute publication has an article: “Can you build for happiness?” This is tied to IEEE’s future directions activities on Smart Cities. While the question has an architectural focus, it can apply to any creation. There is a whole field of Human Factors that evaluates how easy devices or interfaces are for people to use. I’m not aware of any “happiness factors” engineering that ask how the interactions will relate to the satisfaction or emotional well being of users. There is a general perception that technology often operates the opposite way, developing frustration, and the general desire to destroy the device, application, creators, etc.
There is research on happiness, a few resources include:
- Michaly Csikszentmihalyi —http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html
- Nancy Etcoff – Happiness and why we want it http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/nancy_etcoff_on_happiness_and_why_we_want_it.html
- Matthieu Richard – meditation & mind control http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/matthieu_ricard_on_the_habits_of_happiness.htm
- Dan Gilbert, Synthetic Happiness http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
- Richard Layard’s happiness lectures:
- What is happiness? Are we getting happier? – http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures/layard/RL030303.pdf
- Income and happiness: rethinking economic policy– http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures/layard/RL040303.pdf
- How can we make a happier society? — http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures/layard/RL050303.pdf
Perhaps one of the most telling examples from the article is from Christine Outram who founded the City Innovations Group. She cites Starbucks introduction of round tables in its cafes after surveying customers and finding they made people feel better about sitting alone.
Compare this with the Vienna coffee houses where Einstein and Freud had coffee and dialog with their colleagues. How can we make people feel better about sitting together? I think maybe we have lost something in CoffeeHaus 2.0.