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Modeling Human Happiness

What does it mean to be happy and how do we get happy? Can science measure happiness?

An old terracotta bowl from ancient Greece.

Terracotta bell-krater. Bowl for mixing wine and water. Ca. 440 B.C. Photo:

About the project

Modeling Human Happiness (ModHap) is a project by a group of philosophers and psychologists, aiming to improve our understanding of how happiness can be studied.

ModHap is an interdisciplinary project that integrates insights from ancient philosophy, philosophy of science and psychology to develop new empirically testable notions of happiness. Our main objective is to develop new scientific models of happiness, which will provide vital knowledge about the sources of happiness, generate novel metrics for empirically measuring happiness, and lay the groundwork for innovative interventions aimed at improving and sustaining happiness. 

Our core hypothesis is that an integration of ancient conceptions and contemporary scientific investigations will generate novel models and understandings of human happiness. An overly individualistic and subjectivist modern perspective limits contemporary happiness research, and groundbreaking conceptual and methodological changes in the science of happiness will be made possible by exploring ancient theses about the nature of happiness.


Our primary objective is to develop innovative scientific models of happiness to inform research, public debate and policymaking. These models will be based on an interdisciplinary integration of insights from ancient philosophical conceptions, philosophy of science and modern psychological research.

Our secondary objectives include:

  • Modelling happiness as (a) fundamentally social, (b) inherently value-laden, (c) a function of human nature, and (d) a temporally extended, dynamic activity.
  • Providing novel understandings of ancient conceptions of happiness
  • Generating metrics for empirically measuring happiness based on the new models
  • Empirically testing the new conceptions of happiness, their underlying structures, and the causal mechanisms involved - including the role of genetic and environmental factors.


Norwegian Research Council, contract nr. 325898.



Published June 30, 2022 12:40 PM - Last modified June 30, 2022 12:40 PM