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Psychology Roundup

May 20, 2011

States with the highest reported levels of happiness also have high suicide rates.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Why happiness is depressing. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The states of Utah and Hawaii have high levels of reported happiness, along with some of the highest suicide rates. It’s true even after correcting for differences in employment, income and other factors, according to a study in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. The researchers suspect that people constantly compare their feelings with the moods of those around them. Being depressed in a happy community can make people feel worse than they already do.

In other psychology news, scientists report in the journal Biological Psychiatry that people with high levels of the brain chemical serotonin see more romance in the world. Researchers gave volunteers a drink that elevated their levels of serotonin and then showed them pictures of couples. The volunteers rated the photos as significantly more romantic than did the volunteers who didn’t get the serotonin boost. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.