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How to Spread Digital Happiness – Insights from Positive Psychology

Big Picture. How do we use digital technology to help make people happy?

We can use ‘PPIs’ – positive psychology interventions – that are clinically proven to promote happiness and wellbeing (positive psychologists research the psychology of  happiness and wellbeing).

So here are three PPIs – ‘positive psychology interventions’ – that we can adapt to digital.

  • PPI-1 The ARC of Happiness – The ARC of happiness refers to three universal drivers of happiness. Autonomy, our sense of choice and volition, Relatedness, our sense of feeling connected to and cared about by others, and Competence our sense of self-efficacy in the world. Psychologists use the ARC to discuss ‘quick wins’ in peoples lives that will boost our sense of autonomy, relatedness or competence. Applying the PPI to digital means taking existing campaigns, products or services and optimising them by refocusing on one of the ARC benefits
  • PPI-2 Signature Strengths – This PPI focuses on enhancing happiness by building peoples own unique strengths (as opposed to remedying weaknesses) Positive psychologists use a simple inventory – Values in Action – (VIA) of character strengths to identify strengths and then encourage people to find new ways to use them. Applying this PPI to digital means taking a signature brand strength and applying digitally it in a new way. We can also use the VIA test to humanise digital by innovating in a way that puts one of the seven core human character strengths into action

Wisdom and Knowledge
Creativity, Judgement, Perspective, Curiosity, Love of learning
Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, Zest
Love, Kindness, Social intelligence
Teamwork, Fairness, Leadership
Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self-regulation
Appreciation of beauty and excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humour, Spirituality

  • PPI-3 Three Good Things: A simple and effective PPI is ‘Three Good Things’ which involves recalling three good things that have happened to you at the end of each day, and asking yourself why they happened. Tests show that 3GT is effective in boosting long term happiness. Applying this PPI to digital means identifying three good things that can happen to people as a consequence of using your brand. Focus on these and ideate around how digital technology would make this positive outcomes more likely, more meaningful and more impactful

Psychologists are interested in happiness because it is linked to so many positive outcomes – a longer life, healthier life, increased vitality, enhanced resilience, more success at work, better physical health and immune system functioning, faster recovery, more kindness, and better and more rewarding relationships. So when you are thinking about customer experience, and how digital experience can enhance it, think big.

If you want more on making happiness your business model, check out Applied Positive Psychology – and the excellent work of Dr Kate Hefferon (@katehefferon) and Dr Carolyn Mair (@Carolyn_UK), colleagues at the London College of Fashion.





Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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1 comment
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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.