Well-being of our current POTUS

Module 4 writing assignment

Presidential Daily (Well-being) Brief

NOTE: I’m not a fan of our current president but please write in any way you feel.

Every day the President of the United States (POTUS) gets a briefing (or report) about the threats to the security of the United States. I want you to write a briefing about well-being instead of national security.

This Module contained articles about several important social processes or constructs and their relationship to well-being. Now that you have this information, I want you to think about how we could use this information to improve the world. If only psychologists know about this information, what good is it to the world? So imagine that you could write a Presidential Daily (Well-being) Brief, and you could be sure that s/he would actually read it and is open to the idea of taking some action because of it. What would you want the President to know? (You can have our actual President in mind, or you can imagine a generic President. The important thing is that the President has a lot of power to make things happen.) Interestingly, there is actually a lot of empirical/theoretical work out there about the economics of well-being or the reasons we should focus on well-being instead of things like gross domestic product (GDP). If you want to look into or review some of the arguments from this point of view (which is pretty clearly related to this assignment), you may want to start here: http://www.fewresources.org/gdp–well-being.html


  1. For your write-up, start off by briefly summarizing the research that you think it is important that the President know about well-being. Remember two important things about the President: s/he is busy, so keep it short and to-the-point, and s/he is not a trained psychologist, so try to avoid using a lot of jargon while still communicating the essential points.

Next, provide some concrete actions the POTUS could take in light of the information you just delivered. What do you think the POTUS could do if s/he wanted to address the social problems you mentioned that affect or are affected by well-being? Imagine that you have unlimited funds, and even an unlimited time-frame. Also imagine that Congress will agree to the POTUS’s actions (that seems more far-fetched than the unlimited funds thing at the moment, but we can fantasize, right?).

I want at least three solid proposals from you. The important features of the proposals are:

  • that they have to be based on the research you read in class (or a reference/citation contained therein) and described to the POTUS
  • that they are actual proposals for action (not vague ideas like “make people happier” – you need to address how)
  • and that they address serious social problems.

Notice that ‘feasibility’ is not a criteria. You can’t propose to do something impossible (like replace everyone’s brain), but expense and time are unlimited. It would be great to have a proposal that could work in 1 year, but your proposal could have a 20 or 50 year time frame if you think that is required.

They could all be about the same social problem (like poverty or discrimination or high divorce rates or social isolation), or they could each address different problems, it’s up to you.

I would like you to write the proposals with your audience in mind. Remember who you are writing to: the President of the United States! (This is no reflection of my opinion on the current President, but respecting that different students will have different political views and I do not want that to potentially make this assignment harder so): If needed, feel free to set aside you thoughts/opinions about the current POTUS and imagine writing to a generic POTUS: someone whom you feel cares about the welfare of this country and the power to do something about it. Consider your tone, formality, format, etc.

This is your chance to be creative and ambitious. I’m offering up the power, prestige, and resources of the Federal Government! Use it!

(You must make three separate and very specific proposals for a plan of action. Each one should have an explanation and at least one research citation from our class that explains why this recommendation was made/justifies it. You should clearly and specifically explain how each proposal would address a societal problem and why it is important. The section of your work should be written as though you are actually communicating with the President of the United States, so it should be in a professional style of communication.)


  1. Finally, please access the Wikipedia page on felicific calculus (which was referenced in the Hofmann (2013) article) at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicific_calculus and read it in full. Then, in a separate section, (which is not for the POTUS to see, but just for my eyes), address each of your three proposals using this algorithm. Of course, I am not asking you to do any *real* math but rather to evaluate and discuss each of your three proposals in terms of a) intensity, b) duration, c) certainty/uncertainty, d) propinquity/remoteness, e) fecundity, f) purity, and g) extent. This will help you reflect on who will be impacted, the likely effectiveness of your proposals, barriers or hurdles you might encounter, etc.

(For each proposal separately, you should discuss what you would anticipate its effects would be on pleasure/well-being in terms of the following: intensity, duration, certainty/uncertaintly, propinquity/remoteness, fecundity, purity, and extent. You should explain why you came to this assessment of each.)


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