in pursuit of mappiness
August 20, 2010 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Mappiness is a free iPhone app that allows you to keep track of your happiness. It's also a research tool for London School of Economics scholars Susana Mourato and George MacKerron, who are using it to learn "how people's feelings are affected by features of their current environment—things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces."

In research mode, the app dings you randomly 2-5 times a day during times you set, and you fill out a thirty second survey about your mood and health. It also samples the location data, ambient noise and allows you the option to send a photo of your environment.
posted by By The Grace of God (15 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
iTunes link. Title via.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:13 AM on August 20, 2010

From the app website:

Though everyone's welcome to take part, mappiness was originally intended for the UK only. Because of this, the "Don't beep before" and "Don't beep after" times in the app settings are always UK times, wherever in the world you are.
posted by blucevalo at 8:27 AM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

This looks really interesting, and I'm installing it now.

Slightly annoyed that they can't have beep-during settings include a time zone selector (or make an educated guess about the time zone offset based on the local time the iPhone reports). On the other hand, it's a relatively easy problem for the user to overcome. And I'm all for breaking a little sweat if it's on behalf of SCIENCE! SCIENCE! is not safe for epileptics.
posted by ardgedee at 8:30 AM on August 20, 2010

This makes me angry.
posted by sneebler at 8:58 AM on August 20, 2010

Wow, I love the possibilities with this. I'm downloading but still crossing my fingers for a US version.
posted by Fuego at 8:58 AM on August 20, 2010

Uh, no. In order to get my GER credit for psychology I had to do a 2 week study where EVERYDAY I recorded and analyzed my level of happiness. You know what two weeks of trying to decide whether you're happy or not and exactly how happy you are does to you? Makes you fucking depressed.
posted by edbles at 9:02 AM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

The secret to participating in surveys like this is to not think about it too hard.

Good test design helps: Questions and answer structures that help users respond and move on as efficiently as possible keeps the response accuracy higher and increases user participation. (note: I still haven't launched the app yet, so I won't say yet whether Mappiness is an example of good test design)

Dwelling on any degree of precision in expressing your emotional state leads to being at least as wrong about your emotional state as if you had breezily picked a number - because you're now, right, annoyed or depressed by the indecision, and that influences your evaluation of how you were feeling immediately before you began answering the question. Funny, that.
posted by ardgedee at 9:13 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Isn't using an iPhone app to collect data the ultimate in problematic samples?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:38 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Because everyone who has an iPhone is superhappy?!
posted by chavenet at 10:05 AM on August 20, 2010

If it's being treated as a demographic slice ("owners of iPhones..." "owners of automobiles..." "employees of company XYZ..." "Single mothers between the ages of 35 and 43...") it might not be an issue. What might be more problematic is what happens when tens of thousands of people outside of your intended sample area begin volunteering data on their own terms, based on word-of-mouth discussions and assumptions. Or maybe that's part of the design, too. There's an extent to which the testers can't necessarily reveal their intentions beforehand for fear of influencing the responses of the participants.
posted by ardgedee at 10:14 AM on August 20, 2010

Location: bar
Mood: very happy!
Health: rapidly deteriorating
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:29 AM on August 20, 2010

If this were some new 'social media / networking' thing I would want to burn the app to the ground, even if I found the concept interesting. Next thing you know it would have 'allow your friends to see your happiness!' and 'if you're unhappy today drop by [store near you based on your GPS location] which has some great deals on [sale item marketed to your demographic]!' and other disconcerting stuff.

But because it's research, and it's UK-based which means they don't really care about my US data, and because I didn't have to put my name in, and I can lie about everything else (gender, employment, salary) if I want to, I feel like I can take this app and use it to track my happiness in whatever manner I wish, and I'm fine with that.

So I've installed it. We'll see how long it takes me to get sick of the alerts. I did one already and the time it took to respond wasn't bad at all, so I'll see how long I can keep going.
posted by komara at 10:41 AM on August 20, 2010

I'd love to see the results. But what I really want to know is, do men cycle like women? As in, when I have a crappy series of days that seem unrelated to anything external, is it perhaps just 'my time of month?'

I want an app for that.

I wouldn't mind an app for mapping my psycho co-worker's moods, either.
posted by kanewai at 4:53 PM on August 20, 2010

Do every single one of you have iPhones?

posted by Malice at 10:05 PM on August 20, 2010

Aaaaaand that got annoying, app is now gerned from my phone.
posted by komara at 12:49 PM on August 23, 2010

« Older Ketamine lifts depression, grows synapses, study...   |   "Berlin is rather a part of the world than a city" Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments