2008 The advice of the wise; Afterthoughts about reality checking

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One of the aims of this special issue on happiness advice was to assess the reality value of recommendations. All papers checked empirical indications for effectiveness, typically by inspecting whether the things advised have been found to be related to happiness in empirical research. Some limitations of this approach are that some advisers used a different definition of happiness than the papers, the papers checked the advice for present day readers, not for the contemporaries of advisers, the data that is used to check the advice is most often correlative in nature, and the papers ignored personality differences. Future research should focus on a wider range of happiness advisers, look at the interaction of the advice and individual readers and address the question of the usefulness of the advice experimentally. One of the central questions considered in this special issue is whether happiness advice enhances in happiness of people who take it to heart. In each case study we checked whether the recommendations are in line with what is known about the conditions of happiness. Does this test do justice to the wise advisers? The following limitations must be acknowledged.

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