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Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert said there is a scientific basis for the advice that mothers give about how to be happy: get married, make money, and have children. The author of the bestselling “Stumbling on Happiness” discussed his research on happiness during a talk at the Nieman Foundation on February 19.

Married people are happier, healthier and wealthier than their unmarried peers, he said. And money really does buy happiness, but, after a certain point, each extra dollar you earn buys less happiness than it did before. Happiness tends to plummet after having children but that changes as parents engage in what Gilbert calls “rationalizing our investment” in the next generation.

Having friends, Gilbert said, is the single best predictor of happiness. What we don’t yet know is whether online interactions make people as happy as offline ones.

Scientists and journalists share an interest in being as objective as possible. Both try to see things as they are, yet to some extent both scientists and journalists see what we expect to see.

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