Using the iPhone for Psychology

A new Harvard study / iPhone app has determined that when we let our minds wander, our happiness suffers.

The app is called track your happiness, and it sends quick messages throughout the day asking what you’re doing, what you’re thinking about and how you’re feeling. It also checks up on your exercise routine. Here’s an excerpt from the Science Friday interview with Harvard researcher Matt Killingsworth and Ira Flatow.

FLATOW: And you say that mind-wandering, when people’s minds wander, they’re at their unhappiest state…

Mr. KILLINGSWORTH: Yeah. So there are three main results that we present in the paper. The first one is that people seem to be mind-wandering a lot. About 47 percent of the time, people said they were thinking about something other than what they were doing. So it really seems to be something that’s pervading people’s experience essentially no matter what they’re doing.

Another question I have, and a point I think skewered the results, is if non-iPhone users will also be tracked and compared. As someone who rides public transportation and spends a fair amount of time in coffee shops, it’s obvious that iPhone users would be among the least likely of us to spend time “in the moment.”

{via NPR}