Laboratory evidence for emotional externalities: an essay in honor of EJ Mishan

Daniel Sgroi, Eugenio Proto, Andrew J. Oswald, Alexander Dobson

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Professor EJ Mishan was a world expert on the idea of externalities. In this paper, we provide evidence for the intuitive idea of "emotional externalities". These might be viewed as psychological spillovers from the well-being of one person upon the well-being of another. A new form of laboratory experiment is implemented. "Happiness" answers are elicited in the first few seconds of the experiment. Tragic life events - like family illness and bereavement - are then studied. The paper documents evidence consistent with a powerful caring-about-others effect. The paper's results also suggest an approximate equivalence between life-satisfaction data and happiness data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1640015
Number of pages25
JournalSingapore Economic Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • experiments
  • happiness
  • life satisfaction
  • priming
  • Subjective well-being
  • surveys

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