The "Fight or Flight" adrenaline effect is yet another (possibly clever?)
explanatory note; the specific adversity/disaster is important.  I don't
believe in any general "happiness while hungry" or "happiness while in
pain". But when the crummy circumstance was caused by a more specific
threat, the adrenaline creates a chemical mood change, at least temporarily.
In war, repeatedly.
It's not clear if EP tests given to the Russians during the war would give
the same results as those same tests a few years after the war -- I think
not; "what's too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget; so it's
the laughter, which we remember..."

Another issue is solidarity -- when people can join together to fight
against the bad situation, and those nearby are similarly enduring the
problems.  Not "misery loves company", but "we shall overcome" and "we're
all in this together".  Mob pyschology / holy spirit in gatherings (?); the
US 60's protests generated intense feelings, and many ex hippies never felt
generally as good again.

And one more issue, the "lack of regret" about decisions, especially in war.
Most soldiers follow orders, which they're not really responsible for.  For
many people, too many choices, too much freedom, causes unhappy
indecisiveness about what is desired and what should be chosen.  In a
stressful time when there are few or no other choices, there is no
opportunity-lost regret about what wasn't done.  The clarity of pure action
implementation, "do, or do not; there is no try", allows a focus of effort
and, if successful, a pure enjoyment.  This is also related to the enjoyment
of trying your hardest, really giving 100% of yourself, to a "worthy" goal.

This sounds like sports; when I played ultimate at lunch, it was great to
stop thinking about work and the world etc., and just strive to be the best
I could be.  It also sounds like cramming for tests in university.  Insofar
as lack of choice is important, then it's probably a little outside of
utility maximizing considerations.

Whether "disaster raises happiness"; or, if there's more happiness under
adversity, then why?
is really interesting and leads down many paths.  

Tom Grey

-----Original Message-----
From: fabio guillermo rojas [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]]
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2001 2:27 AM
Subject: Re: Disaster Raises Happiness, Trust

Well, the second-hand report supplied by me was just one bit of
evidence in support of the more general observation that some people
report that they are happiest in situations of adversity - a point
raised by Robin. Someone volunteered that a survey had shown that
some Russians were happiest during WWII, when millions were killed
or starved to death. 

The question is whether this situation - happiness during 
adversity - is typical for certain contexts. That't empirical. The
theoretical question is Robin's: if it is true that
you can increase your happiness in crummy circumstance, then
is that not a challenge to the utility maximizing hypothesis
that modern economics is based on? 


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