PB421      Half Unit

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ekaterina Oparina


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environmental Economics and Climate Change) (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course (or its dissertation equivalent) is compulsory on the Wellbeing Specialism of the MSc in Behavioural Science.

Course content

This course aims to introduce students to the main concepts and tools of the growing science of happiness, with a focus on applicability across all sectors (government, business, and NGOs). To achieve this aim, the course is based on ten lectures covering: 1) what is happiness?; 2) evaluations of happiness; 3) experiences of happiness; 4) attention and adaptation; 5) anticipation and mistakes; 6) relative comparisons; 7) happiness across individuals and societies; 8) designing for happiness; 9) a dark side to happiness?; 10) the frontier of happiness research.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the WT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one essay of 1,000 words in LT.

Indicative reading


Dolan, P. (2014). Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life. London: Penguin.

Dolan, P. (2019). Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life. London: Allen Lane.

Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. London: Penguin.

Journal articles

Adler, M. D., Dolan, P., & Kavetsos, G. (2017). Would you choose to be happy? Tradeoffs between happiness and the other dimensions of life in a large population survey. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 139, 60-73.

Bryson, A., & MacKerron, G. (2015). Are You Happy While You Work? Economic Journal, 127(599), 106-125.

Card, D., Mas, A., Moretti, E., & Saez, E. (2012). Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction. American Economic Review, 102(6), 2981-3003.

Dolan, P., Peasgood, T., & White, M. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29(1), 94-122.

Kahneman, D., & Deaton, A. (2010). High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(38), 16489-16493.

Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method. Science, 306(5702), 1776-1780.

Killingsworth, M. A. (2021). Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(4), e2016976118.

White, M. P., & Dolan, P. (2009). Accounting for the Richness of Daily Activities. Psychological Science, 20(8), 1000-1008.

Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2003). Affective forecasting. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 345-411.

Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2008). Explaining Away: A Model of Affective Adaptation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(5), 370-386.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2022/23: 46

Average class size 2022/23: 12

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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