"We can't measure happiness." we hear this a lot. What is interesting is that professors, researchers, and the general public never doubt that you can measure depression, anxiety, and stress. But many are reluctant to accept that happiness is measurable. Researchers have attempted to measure happiness with five approaches: Biological, Behavioral, Implicit Measures, Other reports, Self-Reports.
So far, researchers have had only minimal success in identifying the biological markers of happiness. What we do know is that the markers for happiness aren’t the same as for depression. For example, if low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin predict depression, high levels of serotonin don’t predict happiness. This is important.
It suggests that happiness and depression are not opposite ends of a single continuum, but are better thought of as related, but independent, dimensions. Researchers have used behaviors to estimate happiness. Behaviors such as frequency of smiling, laughing, and helping others have been examined. Disguised measures, in which people don’t even know that their happiness is being assessed, have been developed. Asking others to rate a person’s happiness has been useful. By far the most common way that researchers assess happiness is through self-reports. Using multiple-item scales or a single question, we simply ask people about their level of happiness.