SCC 2014 - What is wellbeing and what does it mean for science communication?


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What is wellbeing and what does it mean for science communication? – H Room, Austin Pearce Building

Can engaging minority audiences in science help improve wellbeing? How should we be doing it?
As of April 2011 the UK‟s Annual Population Survey has included questions on wellbeing. Some of the groups considered “hard to reach” such as people with disabilities, from specific ethnic groups (Black, Arab, Pakistani, and Indian) and unemployed, have lower scores in wellbeing. We will debate if and how the work done by the science communication community can impact the wellbeing of these groups.

Speakers: Saalam Abdallah (New Economic Foundation), John Haworth (University of Bolton), Chair: Amy Sanders (Wellcome Trust)

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SCC 2014 - What is wellbeing and what does it mean for science communication?

  1. 1. What is wellbeing and what does it mean for science communication? Saamah Abdallah John Haworth Chair: Amy Sanders #SciComm14Free #SciComm14
  2. 2. Happiness and Well-being John Haworth. Visiting Professor in Well-being, University of Bolton & Visiting Research Fellow, Manchester Metropolitan University. UK British Science Association Science Communication Conference 1st - 2nd May. University of Surrey, Guildford. UK
  3. 3. Mass Observation WORKTOWN
  4. 4. Bolton was chosen as “representative of the industrial life pattern which prevails for the majority of people in Britain” More can be seen about Mass Observation and Worktown at The Centre for Worktown Studies, University of Bolton. And Humphrey Spender’s Worktown at The research used photography very innovatively, in particular by Humphrey Spender, to record the life and times of Bolton, and written accounts of life and happiness made by the people of Bolton, responding to a “Competitions” Survey organised by the Bolton Evening News. The survey has been repeated recently by the Bolton News, in collaboration with Sandie McHugh and Jerome Carson at the Department of Psychology, University of Bolton. It included a request for respondents to rank in order 10 factors important for true happiness. Explanations of the original wording were included.
  5. 5. 1938 – 10 aspects of happiness1938 – 10 aspects of happiness discourse /explanation for 2014discourse /explanation for 2014 More equality More politics More equality in wealth More say in political decisions More beauty More religion More attractive living & working environment More religious influence in society More leadership More good humour More direction from local & national decision makers More smiling and laughter for myself & those around me More leisure More knowledge More time to do the things I enjoy More access and opportunities to learn new things More economic security More action More certainty for maintaining & maybe improving my living standards More action to solve not shelve my problems
  6. 6. The survey also included a question on enjoyment, similar to the one used by the ONS. 280 completed questionnaires are on the Bolton News website (awaiting analysis). 86 completed paper questionnaires have been given an initial analysis by Sandie McHugh, and compared with the1938 survey. This showed that The three most important aspects of happiness in Worktown 1938 2014 More Security Security More Knowledge Good Humour More Religion Equality
  7. 7. Worktown to Cottonopolis The Centre for Worktown Studies, Directed by Bob Snape,organised a day long workshop, open to the general public,on the 29 March 2014. This included presentations on the Mass Observation Worktown Archive; and the Bolton News Happiness Research. It also involved repeating the original journey from Bolton to Cottonopolis (Manchester), with the award winning cartoonist Tony Husband (Private Eye, The Times), with participants invited to become a Mass Observer for the Day. Participants were also invited to complete a ‘Hands On’ project, involving drawing round their hand on a piece of A4 paper, and writing the number of each of six questions on subjective well being, including Happiness, and the numerically coded answer. A poster will be made and placed on the website It will be similar to one made at a Workshop at an invited Conference on ‘Aesthetics and Embodied Mind’ at Delmenhorst, Germany, organised by Alfonsina Scarinsi. The poster can be seen in the gallery at the above website. A presentation was also made at the Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day.
  8. 8. Well-being has been viewed variously as happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment, contentment, engagement, fulfilment, resilience, and flourishing. Well-being is also viewed as a process, something we do together, and as sense making, rather than just a state of being. It is acknowledged that in life as a whole there will be periods of ill-being, and that these may add richness to life. It has also been recognised that well-being and the environment are intimately interconnected. Certainly, well-being is seen to be complex and multifaceted, and may take different forms (Haworth, J.T. & Hart, G. (eds) (2012) Well-Being: Individual, Community and Social Perspectives. Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan). Happiness and well-being are now crucial topics for research and policy in many countries; and a movement for happiness has been established The New Economics Foundation considers that sustainable well-being should be at the forefront of government policy. BOLTON WELL-BEINGBOLTON WELL-BEING   Well-BeingWell-Being While the results for Bolton of the National Well-being Survey by the ONS do not feature in some of the worst in England, there are greater percentages of people in the lower (negative) end of the scale for Life Satisfaction, Happiness, and Feeling Things in Life are Worthwhile, than in Greater Manchester and the UK taken as a whole. • For Life Satisfaction and Happiness there is a greater percentage in the positive end of the scales for Bolton than for Greater Manchester and the UK. • The Life Satisfaction and Happiness scales are thus more unequal in Bolton than for Greater Manchester and the UK. • There is a greater percentage of people with very low anxiety in Bolton than in Greater Manchester and the UK The monthly Opinion Survey conducted in August 2011 by the ONS included a measure of enjoyment, which has been shown to be important for well-being (Haworth and Hart 2012), and other aspects of experience, as well as the four overall measures of wellbeing. The question on enjoyment asked: ‘Overall how much enjoyment did you experience yesterday?’ answered on a 10 point scale from 0 no enjoyment at all to 10 as much enjoyment as possible. The mean rating was 6.4, compared to a mean rating of 7.4 to the question ‘Overall how happy did you feel yesterday’. Enjoyment correlated 0.58 with happiness. For enjoyment, nearly 20% had a rating of under 5, while 35% or more had a rating of between 8 and 10. Obviously there are significant differences in enjoyment amongst sections of the population. It would be valuable to analyse in more detail how enjoyment is distributed amongst the population by variables such as age, gender, employment/unemployment, income, and geographical place. Results for BoltonResults for Bolton Measuring National Well-BeingMeasuring National Well-Being EnjoymenEnjoyment Currently in the UK, at the behest of the UK Government, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) ( is developing new measures of national well- being. The aim is that these new measures will cover the quality of life of people in the UK, environmental and sustainability issues, as well as the economic performance of the country. The ONS has added four questions to its annual Integrated Household Survey. These are: •Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays? •Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday •Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday •Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile? The questions are answered on a scale from 0-10. Smaller surveys addressing other aspects of well-being are being conducted each month. Initially, results will be regarded as experimental to see if the questions work, and that they meet public policy and other needs, including international developments. Children’s Graffiti Bolton Open Bolton Lads and Girls Club Atlantic Rowers Arriving Antigua John Haworth Visiting Professor of Well-Being University of Bolton Bowls Bolton Open Bolton Shopping Market West Pennine moors Bolton Museum’s Humphrey Spender’s Worktown Collection  Bolton Town Hall Happiness Questionnaire 2014University of Bolton
  9. 9. HANDS ON
  10. 10. Several key concepts relating to well-being have been identified in the introduction to book by Haworth and Hart 2007/ 2012, available on the website www.wellbeing- These include the following: Well-being has been viewed variously as happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment, contentment; engagement, fulfilment and flourishing Well-being is also viewed as a process, something we do together, and as sense making, rather than just a state of being. Well-being is seen to be complex and multifaceted, and may take different forms. Well-being is now being investigated in the UK by the Office for National Statistics drawing on national and local surveys using questions comparable with research in other countries.
  11. 11. An empirical model of well-being. Nine situational or environmental factors, termed Principal Environmental Influences (PEI’S) have been proposed by Warr, (1987) as important for well-being. They include the five categories of experience identified by Jahoda, provided as latent consequencies of employment, showing the importance of social institutions for well-being. These features of the environment, such as opportunity for control, externally generated goals, opportunity for interpersonal contact, are considered to interact with characteristics of the person to facilitate or constrain psychological well-being or mental health. Research by Haworth and colleagues shows strong associations between each of the nine factors and measures of mental health. An important development of the model shows the importance of enjoyment for well-being. The research is published in Journals referenced in the book: J.T. Haworth (1997) Work, Leisure and Well-being. London: Routledge; Taylor and Francis (2006).
  12. 12. The book has been republished by Taylor and Francis (2006). The research was done using the Experience Sampling Method, and path analysis. The study suggested that enjoyment and feelings of control might enhance locus of control, which in turn may lead to enhanced well-being either directly or through greater access to PEIs. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK in its ‘Approach to measuring well-being’ is ‘Aiming to build a deeper understanding of how internal psychological factors and personal attributes can mediate external determinants and contributions of individual well-being’.
  13. 13. The ESM traditionally uses questionnaire diaries and electronic pagers which are pre-programmed to bleep at randomly selected times during the day to indicate response times, though recent research has used mobile phones (see later). The ESM in this project, conducted over seven consecutive days, involved a series of short questions answered on a card, at a signal from the pager eight times during the day. The questions were on activity, enjoyment, interest, challenge, skills, and happiness. Questionnaires are used to measure the PEI’S and some aspects of well-being, and Locus of Control. The results from the study by Haworth, Jarman, and Lee (1997) showed that several of the PEIs were associated with measures of well-being; and that locus of control was associated with measures of well-being, with internal locus of control individuals having better scores. Internal locus of control individuals also had better scores on several PEIs; and also greater levels of enjoyment, interest and control, and wished to be doing activities more than external locus of control individuals, measured over the week of the study. Path analysis showed that for some measures of well-being, locus of control had a greater indirect effect on well-being through the PEIs than a direct effect.
  14. 14. Rotter (1966,1990) emphasises that locus of control is a learned expectancy, rather than a fixed trait. Furnham and Steele (1993) note that while locus of control beliefs may influence experience, the reverse may also be true. They suggest that positive successful life experiences probable increase internal locus of control beliefs through optimistic attributions. These may increase confidence, initiative and positive motivation, and thus lead to more successful experiences. Rotter (1982) indicates the possible importance of ‘enhancement behaviours’, which he viewed as ‘specific cognitive activities that are used by internals to enhance and maintain good feelings’. However, Uleman and Bargh (1989) also indicate the importance of subconscious processes in wellbeing Merleau-Ponty (1962) in his Embodiment theory of consciousness indicates the importance of both non-reflective and reflective interactions in Being (see Haworth 2000) This is reflected in current theories of ‘situated cognition’ emphasising the intertwining of the situation and cognition. ( e.g. M. Wilson (2002) Six Views of Embodied Cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp625-636 Conceivably, positive subjective states could influence person factors, such as dispositions, coping styles and life themes etc, through both reflective and non -reflective interactions. In turn, person factors could influence well-being directly, or indirectly through access to situational factors important for well-being.
  15. 15. Enjoyment, Flow and Well-being, in Work and Leisure Haworth, J.T.(2004) Work, Leisure and Well-Being in (eds) J.T. Haworth, and A.J.Veal. Work and Leisure. London: Routledge. Haworth, J.T. (2014) ‘Leisure, Life, Enjoyment and Well-Being’ In (eds) S. Elkington and J. Gammon. Contemporary Perspectives in Leisure: Meanings, Motives and Lifelong-Learning’ Oxford: OUP Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) distinguish between pleasure and enjoyment . They note that ‘--- Enjoyment, rather than pleasure, is what leads to personal growth and long term happiness’ In a pioneering study, Csikszentmihalyi (1975) set out to understand enjoyment in its own terms and to describe what makes an activity enjoyable. He found that when artists, athletes and creative professionals were asked to describe the best times experienced in their favourite activities they all mentioned a dynamic balance between opportunity and ability as crucial. Optimal experience, or ‘flow’ as some of the respondents’ described it, could be differentiated from states of boredom, in which there is less to do than what one is capable of, and from anxiety, which occurs when things to do are more than one can cope with. Extensive research has shown that enjoyable flow, where activities of moderate to high challenge are met with equal skill, can come from both work and leisure, and that this correlates with measures of well-being. High enjoyment can also come from low challenge activities, and be important for well-being
  16. 16. Well-being and the public Science Communication Conference University of Surrey, 2nd May 2014 Saamah Abdallah Centre for Well-being nef (the new economics foundation)
  17. 17. Dynamic model of well-being Good feelings day-to-day and overall e.g. happiness, joy, contentment, satisfaction Good functioning and satisfaction of needs e.g. to be autonomous, competent, safe and secure, connected to others Personal Resources e.g. health, resilience, optimism, self-esteem, External Conditions e.g. material conditions, work and productivity, income (levels and stability) Adapted from Foresight (2008)
  18. 18. Understanding progress Happy Planet Index, 2006
  19. 19. Top four factors associated with well-being • Material deprivation • Health & disability • Work-life balance • Social relationships Based on European Quality of Life Survey 2011
  20. 20. Five ways to wellbeing Evidence-based actions that are memorable, easy to understand and have a wide variety of possible applications
  21. 21. So what’s the problem?
  22. 22. When folk science gets involved
  23. 23. Psychology – the challenges of telling people about themselves
  24. 24. Sciencewise – Embedding Well-being in policy making • Workshops with groups of the public about real policy issues • Informed by well-being science, but light on use of term ‘well-being’ • Two workshop process – one where options are opened, one where they are closed down by policy constraints • Three topics: – Community Rights – Loneliness – Active Labour Market Policy • Different contribution in different contexts
  25. 25. Saamah Abdallah @nefwellbeing
  26. 26. The perfect policy? Well-being =