Statistics from around the world show huge improvements to our way of life, but many of us think the world is in decline. There are good reasons for this; climate change is often cited as the big one. But many of us aren’t aware of the huge strides we’ve made over the decades in reducing poverty, improving healthcare and tackling hunger. In fact, according to surveys of people in richer countries at least, the majority of people think the world is getting worse; but why? In this edition of the Why Factor, Sandra Kanthal asks if human nature is wired to fixate on the downsides of life.
Professor Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology centre at the University of Pennsylvania
Dr Hannah Ritchie, Head of Research at Our World in Data
Ola Rosling , Director and Co-founder of the Gapminder Foundation
Chris Martenson, Co-founder and CEO of Peak Prosperity
Professor Jeremy Adleman, Director of The Global History Lab at Princeton University
Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University
Presenter: Sandra Kanthal
Producer: Xavier Zapata
(Image: Woman on a train looking out of the window. Credit: Marjan Apostolovic/Getty Images)
Why do we (still) wear make-up?
In the 1970s, second wave feminists declared war on make-up - arguing it oppressed women, distracted them from gaining equality, and forced them to attain a beauty ideal not expected of men. And yet young women today wear more make-up than ever. Women have made gains in employment, education, sexual liberation, so why is it so many of us can’t leave the house without make-up? We explore the power and allure of mak-eup and why it works.
Presented and Produced by Gemma Newby
Editor: Richard Knight
(Photo: Young woman vlogging about beauty products. Credit: Getty Images)
Why learn to be happy?
What does happiness mean to you? Friends, family, the rush of a crowd or the joy of solitude? Happiness is a fundamental human desire, yet we often struggle to achieve it. Understanding what does and does not make us happy is a growing field of scientific study. In this edition of the Why Factor, Sandra Kanthal asks if we can really teach people how to be happy.
Laurie Santos – Professor of Psychology, Yale University
Bruce Hood – Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of Bristol
Ellie Wright – Student, University of Bristol
Meike Wiking – CEO, Happiness Research Institute
Jan-Emmanuel de Neve – Associate Editor, World Happiness Report
Professor Dixon Chibanda – Psychiatrist and Founder of The Friendship Bench Project
(Photo: Note pad and smile emoticon on books. Credit: Getty Images)
Why do funerals matter?
Christopher Gunness explores why funerals matter so profoundly to us, as individuals and societies. He talks to people who have lost loved ones in Ghana, Pakistan and the UK about the challenges they have faced. He discovers how burial and cremation have become popular in different countries at different times, visits a green burial place and looks at the growing world of online memorials.
Presenter: Christopher Gunness
Producer: Bob Howard
(Photo: Ghana, Accra Funeral Service. Credit: Getty Images)
Why do we blend?
Blending ingredients to produce something new is a distinctively human urge, and one of our most creative acts. We blend all sorts of products, such as tea, champagne and perfume. Did you know that blended whiskies combine over 30 single malts? In this week’s Why Factor, Barry Smith asks - why we blend. And why some blends work whilst others don’t.
Presenter: Barry Smith
Producer: David Edmonds
Editor: Richard Knight