Portsmouth university study into levels of happiness

Happy couple (generic) The study will examine levels of individuals' happiness

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Levels of people's happiness are being measured in a new study by the University of Portsmouth.

It will examine how people are feeling about their lives in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Dorset.

Sociology lecturer Dr Laura Hyman said happiness "can be quite an individualised thing".

In order to identify local factors influencing people's mood, 100 volunteers will answer a series of questions at intervals during 2012.

Dr Hyman said: "We've already got a lot of data nationally about happiness and wellbeing, but having it at a local level is really useful as it tells us how environmental and local factors impact upon people's sense of their own happiness."

'Happiness Hundred'

In conjunction with BBC Radio Solent, the research team is recruiting a panel of 100 people to take part in the project.

The "Happiness Hundred" will answer a series of questions at regular intervals and some will also be interviewed to gain an insight into their mood as it changes over the year, and what events trigger those changes.

As with the government's recent study of wellbeing, Dr Hyman said the results could show if the current economic climate is having an impact on how happy people feel locally.

She said: "Maybe people are assessing their situations because of the austerity and some people who don't enjoy their jobs may nevertheless say they are happy because they are grateful for the job they have."

Other issues being examined during the 12-month study include whether income, access to amenities or living in rural areas determine happiness levels.

Dr Hyman admitted happiness is a difficult concept to measure.

"There might be all sorts of factors, such as personality determining whether people feel happy inside.

"People are often unable to understand where their happiness comes from so it's important to get more in-depth information," she said.

To apply to take part in the Happiness Hundred panel, email happytalk@bbc.co.uk including your name and contact telephone number.

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