David Ennio DePianto, ‘The Hedonic Impact of Stand-Alone Emotional Harms: An Analysis of Survey Data’

This paper employs survey data on subjective well-being and a battery of self-assessed health measures to estimate the hedonic impact of emotional health, as decoupled from its physical counterpart. The disaggregation of global health into physical and emotional components is done with a parochial eye toward tort law, which has historically drawn a distinction between physical and emotional harms, limiting recovery on the latter — particularly “stand-alone” emotional harms through various common law doctrines. The results of three sets of regression analyses suggest that a range of potentially inactionable emotional conditions, including emotional conditions with no concomitant physical manifestations, exert a significant negative impact on subjective well-being. Further, the emotional health variables included in the models uniformly bore stronger connections to well-being than their similarly-worded and similarly-scaled physical health analogues. In discussing the results, the paper offers a cautious defense of the use of subjective well-being measures — so-called “happiness” data — as a tool for informing the concepts of harm and injury in tort.

DePianto, David Ennio, The Hedonic Impact of Stand-Alone Emotional Harms: An Analysis of Survey Data (May 17, 2012). Law & Psychology Review, Forthcoming.

First posted 2012-07-18 18:42:04

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