For much of its history, American law has relied on philosophical and economic approaches to thinking about well-being. Over the past couple of decades, however, new research in the social sciences has enabled the direct measurement of human happiness. Thanks to developments in hedonic psychology, it is now increasingly possible to predict what will make people happy or unhappy, and we can begin to understand whether people do a good job of choosing those things that are likely to increase their subjective well-being. In many cases, the results are surprising and counter-intuitive.
These findings have important implications for many aspects of legal practice. They can help lawyers better gauge the impact of various disabilities and injuries for their clients and assist them in counseling clients accordingly. Research on the impact of imprisonment and divorce sheds new light on these fields, and one day happiness data may help governments design new policies.
IL MCLE Credit Hours: 1