Here are some of the research projects I'm currently working on
The End of History Illusion
At every stage of life, people make decisions that profoundly influence the lives of the people they will become—and when they finally become those people, they aren’t always thrilled about it. Young adults pay to remove the tattoos that teenagers paid to get, middle-aged adults rush to divorce the people whom young adults rushed to marry, and older adults visit health spas to lose what middle-aged adults visited restaurants to gain.
I study why people so often make decisions that their future selves regret.
Increasing Happiness Through Positive Emotion Regulation
Scientifically validated interventions and activities to increase happiness have blossomed over the last decade. One challenge is integrating these many and apparently disparate findings.
My collaborators James Gross (Stanford) and Moira Mikolajczak (UCL), and I have recently developed a framework to organize and integrate the rapidly growing literature on happiness-enhancing interventions. We show that most interventions can be arranged in a 3x5 emotion regulation matrix, casting light on the precise mechanisms underlying their respective effectiveness. Our model provides practitioners with clear guidelines to identify their clients’ specific needs and weaknesses, and help them select the best happiness-inducing activities.
How much can someone know about your personality just by looking at the way you use your phone?
With my collaborator Yves-Alexandre de Monjoye at MIT, we have designed a set of novel metrics that can be computed from standard phone call logs. We are able to predict users' personalities and happiness levels with a mean accuracy of about 50% better than chance.
Compare three individuals: Person A experiences three moments of joy in a given day, Person B experiences two moments of joy and one moment of contentment, and Person C experiences two moments of joy and one moment of anxiety. If we sum the number of positive emotions (joy and contentment) and subtract the number of negative emotions (anxiety), A and B would be equally happy, and happier than C.
Going beyond simple arithmetics, I investigate whether not just the mean levels but also the diversity of emotions that people experience may have hidden benefits for their well-being.