Sex makes people happiest — enough said. Exercise, with its release of endorphins, comes in second place. But the third-best activity for happiness, according to a British iPhone survey, is a night at the theater, a concert or a dance performance — and other arts ranked in the next four places on this list.
The Mappiness Project is a survey conducted via iPhone that collects data about where — and when, and why — people are happy. Participants who have downloaded the Mappiness app were prompted to input information about how happy they were, and what made them feel that way, at random intervals, and their phone’s GPS relayed information about their location. Researchers George MacKerron and Susana Mourato of the London School of Economics have encouraged more than 46,000 people across Britain and the world to submit more than 3 million answers, according to the Mappiness Blog.
Though MacKerron hasn’t published all of the results of the survey yet, he said in an e-mail that these were the top activities that participants reported made them happy, controlled for factors like companionship, time of day, day of week, and any concurrent activities:
1. Intimacy, making love
2. Sports, running, exercise
3. Theatre, dance, concert
4. Singing, performing
5. Exhibition, museum, library
6. Hobbies, arts, crafts
As theaters struggle to find new audiences and art organizations seek sources of funding, this is a marketing campaign that practically writes itself: “The arts: Almost as good as sex!”
Nevertheless, MacKerron writes, “I’m afraid our data can’t tell us *why* going to the theatre makes people happy, or why they don’t go there more often.”