They initially work when a change acts as a reminder

The limits of nudging
A look at the Behavioural Insights Team’s latest report
Jul 24th 2015

Sending personal text messages helps to nudge people to remain in public programmes, such as literacy or numeracy programmes for young adults.
But as wonderful as the initial results are, the concern is that while such programmes initially work when a change acts as a reminder, once people become used to the new order they will stop paying attention to them and continue as before.



Beyond the hedonic treadmill model (2006)

Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being.
Am Psychol. 2006 May-Jun;61(4):305-14.
Diener E, et al.

According to the hedonic treadmill model, good and bad events temporarily affect happiness, but people quickly adapt back to hedonic neutrality.
The theory, which has gained widespread acceptance in recent years, implies that individual and societal efforts to increase happiness are doomed to failure.
The recent empirical work outlined here indicates that 5 important revisions to the treadmill model are needed.
First, individuals’ set points are not hedonically neutral.
Second, people have different set points, which are partly dependent on their temperaments.
Third, a single person may have multiple happiness set points: Different components of well-being such as pleasant emotions, unpleasant emotions, and life satisfaction can move in different directions.
Fourth, and perhaps most important, well-being set points can change under some conditions.
Finally, individuals differ in their adaptation to events, with some individuals changing their set point and others not changing in reaction to some external event.
These revisions offer hope for psychologists and policy-makers who aim to decrease human misery and increase happiness.

Comment in:
On the importance of distinguishing hedonia and eudaimonia when contemplating the hedonic treadmill. [Am Psychol. 2007]

Comment on Diener, Lucas, and Scollon (2006). “Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being”. [Am Psychol. 2007]

Hedonic treadmill

Salary Level May Not Indicate Contentment
December 16, 2005

Mr. CLEMENTS: the research says is that there’s this youth curve in happiness.
You know, people tend to be reasonably happy in their 20s, they get less and less happy through their 30s, they hit bottom in their 40s, and then they tend to rebound from there.

MONTAGNE: Here’s something that’s interesting, something called the `hedonic treadmill,’ having to do with hedonism, right?

Mr. CLEMENTS: Right. I mean, the notion is that, you know, we all think, `OK, you know, if only we were richer, we’d be happier.
If only we got that next pay raise, we’d be happier.’ But what happens is you tend to get used to it after a while and so, you know, the boost to your happiness tends to fade away and after a couple of months you may feel little or no better off.

MONTAGNE: If it isn’t a pay raise or something kind of specific in time that can get you back to feeling happy, if you will, or content, what are the things that economics researchers and sociologists say will return you to a state of feeling content?

Mr. CLEMENTS: … one of the things that seems to have the biggest negative impact on people’s sense of well-being is a long commute.
Another thing that seems to be important is having job flexibility...
The other key thing is friends are a huge boost to happiness. If you spend your time seeing friends on a regular basis, you have a close-knit group of friends, that can really, really help.

What Makes Us Happy At Work?
University of Kent

Hedonic treadmill

theme cited by:
University of Pennsylvania

What is it called the analogous phenomenon in:
– student motivation?
– epistemic curiosity?
– love?