Be Right or Be Happy?
There’s an old saying, “Would you rather be right or be happy?” In a small experiment involving one married couple, researchers tested this adage by measuring the self-reported quality of life scores of both the husband and wife over time if the husband were instructed to always agree with every opinion and request his wife made (the wife was not informed of this instruction). After 12 days, the experiment was halted because the husband found his wife becoming increasingly critical of everything he did. The husband’s quality of life score fell from 7/10 on day one to 3/10 by day twelve. On the other hand, the wife’s score increased slightly from 8/10 to 8.5/10 during the study. According to the study’s authors, “It seems that being right is a cause of happiness, and agreeing with what one disagrees with is a cause of unhappiness… The results of this trial show that the availability of unbridled power adversely affects the quality of life of those on the receiving end… Many people in the world live as couples, and we believe that it could be harmful for one partner to always have to agree with the other. However, more research is needed to see whether our results hold if it is the male who is always right.”
British Medical Journal, December 2013