BeInkandescent just re-ran a piece I did a few years ago on the Future of Youth Happiness that summarized a consulting study we did for MTV that is available on their ThinkMTV page. While the study was not explicitly on values, it did uncover a mix of traditional, modern, postmodern, and integral values. Perhaps the strongest theme to emerge was a seemingly strong orientation to Integral values. We saw, underneath the typical youthful dreams of being rich and famous, a strong practical orientation and a desire to “make a difference.” In discussions we had with youth across the country (admittedly a small, but “representative” sample), we found that perceived indifference on their part to the “big issues” of the day reflected their sense that it was preferable to devote time and energy to issues where they could make a tangible difference rather than feel good about protesting in a case where the prospects for enacting change were minimal. That point has stuck with me as a key feature of Integral values. Andy Hines
Evaluating product, service and experience offerings in terms of how they contribute to my—and in many cases my community’s—happiness and well-being
“Pursuit of happiness, aka well-being” is the sixth of six emerging need states at the core of our fourth meta need “The [relentless] pursuit of happiness” in ConsumerShift.
These consumers weigh choices in terms of how they add to or subtract from their overall sense of well-being. Their core needs are appreciating life and they are often idealistic in this approach. They believe happiness is available to those willing to make the effort—it is not simply granted, but earned.
Their sense of happiness is perhaps different than the popular perception of being all laughs and smiles and more along the lines of contentment. They may not show outward signs of happiness, but will exude an air of satisfaction. They appreciate life challenges and their ability to handle them. They are typically well connected to family, friends, and networks and are active members in the communities they belong to, whether physical or virtual. Andy Hines
Secondary research plays a key role along with primary in understanding the future consumer landscape. It is challenging to rely solely in primary research for a couple of reasons. First, it is challenging to rely on self-reporting. For instance, consumers seem to be pretty poor at forecasting their own futures. Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness lampooned consumer follies in this regard: “Our ability to imagine our personal future happiness is flawed, drawing upon psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics.” Asking people about their values and how they might behave differently is a risky endeavor. Second, there isn’t much primary data available. While the core of the New Dimensions Values Inventory is based on the yeoman’s work of the World Values Survey in gathering primary research from around the globe over the last forty years, it is a fairly small list. Several of the other principal twenty systems identified in the ConsumerShift research had some sort of assessment instrument, they were not aiming at understanding how the values change over time. I am grateful to my colleagues at the former Social Technologies (now Innovaro) for their help in doing the secondary research that identified values that fit with the four types of the New Dimensions Values Inventory. We were able to “test” those values with clients to some extent by seeing which of those we proposed resonated with clients, and which didn’t. Thus, the inventory was adjusted over the years as we learned more. I am working with colleagues Peter Bishop and Terry Grimat the University of Houston’s Futures Studies program to develop a the New Dimensions Values Assessment instrument to further refine the inventory moving into the future. Andy Hines
Enjoying talk to packed house at the Future of Our Children: Identifying the Issues Impacting Children sponsored by The George Foundation, The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce & Children at Risk, and held at the Texas Safari Ranch. I gave my talk on the Future of Youth Happiness study we did a few years ago for MTV. As I was prepping the talk, I heard a point about how several nations are getting ahead of the US in large part because they are spending more time in the classroom. The point was they were putting more time into learning. Agreed! But, as I was thinking about what I learned during the MTV work, it wasn’t adding up. My dissonance came from the idea that more time in the classroom is the solution. More time yes, but in the classroom? No. One thing we can be pretty sure about is that confining today’s and tomorrow’s kids into classrooms for eight hours a day year round is going to make schools seem more like prisons than places to learn. A key challenge for educators will be coming up with ways to bring learning outside the traditional classroom, to wherever it makes the most sense to take place. Admittedly, this raises a hornet’s nest of issues, but clearly the educated person of tomorrow will be much better served by more hands-on field experience type learning than sitting in classrooms listening to lectures. Andy Hines
A reader comment on an earlier post, Happiness is in our Choices, prompted me to think more about the role of values changes in our happiness. I visited the “gold mine” of values research, Inglehart’s The World Values Survey, and came across an excellent piece by Jan Delhey, From Materialist to Postmaterialist Happiness that did an excellent job of addressing this question.
As one might suspect, there is some debate about whether people are really moving toward postmodern value priorities emphasizing self-expression and quality of life, or whether they are still basically motivated primarily by money and material goods acquisition. It’s not necessarily either-or, but the view here is that the postmodern value priorities are gaining influence in the affluent countries. Put simply, if you are economically secure, your priorities change away from greater economic accumulation. If you are not economically secure, becoming so is the priority.
So, the author’s paper explores whether a so-defined happiness recipe is indeed more post-materialist in rich, post-industrial societies. He suggests that “…under the condition of affluence, happiness is increasingly derived from the fulfillment of post-materialist needs – what I call post-materialist happiness. At this point it is important to note that in the first place value change theory is about relative preferences: “Postmaterialists are not non-Materialists, still less are they anti-Materialists” (Inglehart 1997: 35). Yet materialist concerns should lose ground, relative to post-materialist concerns, in their capacity to make people happy – this is the prediction tested empirically in this paper.” Those qualifiers are important. It’s not as if one simply foregos any concern with material goods whatsoever, but that it becomes a less important motivator.
The conclusion of the paper is that indeed “money matters less in richer countries.” This may seem obvious — duh, right? Believe me, however, it makes a difference. In working with clients who make “goods,” this represents a sea change. Their customers are not going to continue to want more and more stuff — their priorities are changing, and unless organizations recognize this, they’re going to using a happiness recipe that their customers are not going to like. Andy Hines
In researching the emerging values shifts for my upcoming book with No Limits Publishing, I’m always eager to come across “real life” examples. Meet Sandrine Gressard Bélanger, who had hired me for a speaking gig several years back. My memory of her was as a positive, energetic, and hard worker — someone on the fast track to success.
We recently caught back up, and she relayed some significant changes in her life. She and her husband took over an Inn in the country called Auberge des Beaux Cantons, which they run as a ranch and wellness center with workshops, conferences, and performances around happiness and well-being. Her production company, Jasabel productions just launched a new motivational audio CD on Happiness with 8 songs and 10 spoken tracks. She helps people to focus on the positive in their lives and to find the happiness inside them. Not stopping there, she wants this happiness work to form the basis for working towards a society model in order to go into politics. She thinks politics can be done very differently. Her overall goal, “is to get people to reduce the economic factor from their lives and instead focus on their potential and create their lives using that and unconditional love. Then, abundance always follows and finds its way into their lives.”
There’s more (e.g., presiding over a Business Women’s Network) but you get the idea. The essence here is how value shifts are leading consumers (aka people) to increasingly make career and lifestyle choices that favor quality-of-life, self-expression, and making a difference over the old model of accumulating materials goods, wealth, and success-at-all costs. Andy Hines
A futurist colleague based in Australia, Sohail Inayatullah, posted a piece in a local paper about happiness, which was reporting on a study that followed 60,000 Germans for up to 25 years. Beyond the findings themselves, it is noteworthy that happiness research is a hot topic. In our Youth Happiness study for MTV, we were surprised at how much research had been done on the topic over the last several years. Upon reflection, it made sense that postmodern societies were exploring this topic, as our values research had been suggesting a turn away from materials goods pursuit and towards searching for meaning in life as the key to happiness.
Indeed the article, Key to being happy … choices not genes, suggests, “It appears that prioritising success and material goals is actually harmful to life satisfaction,” says Professor Headey, the study leader at Melbourne University, writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And “Over the long-term, happiness was variable, and depended on the life goals and choices of the individual.”
So, if you want to be happy, choose well! — Andy Hines