What Is Your P.Q.?

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

To say that you are successful, do you have to feel that life, overall, feels very pleasurable? So, my question for today is, "What is your P. Q.(Pleasure Quotient) on a pleasure scale of 1 to 100 in which 100 means the maximum pleasure?

Believe it or not, two scientists, Robert Mcbride of Australia and David Warburton, of Britain, use a pleasure scale called, "Hedonic Scaling" to assess how much pleasure, on average, people derive from ordinary recreational activities.

Here is how you can assess your own P.Q.: Take a lined (ruled) paper and a pencil. On separate lines list the following 13 fun activities:

Watching TV and videos; drinking tea or coffee; eating sweet things like cakes or ice-cream; eating chocolate; listening to music; drinking beer, wine or spirits; having sex; smoking; eating dairy products, cheese, cream, butter, etc.; eating out; shopping for yourself; exercising and sports and eating red meat.

On a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the maximum pleasure, rate the amount of pleasure you get from each of these activities. Write that number down next to each particular activity. Now, you have a pleasure rating for each of the 13 activities.

Before you read the rest of this article, calculate your P. Q. by adding these numbers, than dividing the total by 13. The resulting number is your P. Q.

Now you can compare your results with those provided by people from eight countries in Europe and Australia. Sorry, we Americans were not included in the study, but we can do the homework on our own.

Interestingly, the rich and the famous and people from ordinary walks of life derive about the same degree of enjoyment from everyday life. Their P.Qs. that is, the total amount of pleasure, was almost identical across groups within a country. For instance, men and women, rich and poor, religious and non-religious, married and unmarried have similar P.Qs within Britain. Furthermore, the P.Qs were strikingly similar across the European countries and Australia. Needless to say, the researchers did not assess the P.Qs of people living in Bosnia, Kosovo or other countries enduring exceptional circumstances as that would have distorted the study.

Though people have similar P.Qs, they derive their pleasure in different ways. For example, women tend to enjoy eating out, eating chocolate and other sweets, and shopping more than men do. Men tend to enjoy drinking, exercise, sports, eating red meat and sex more than women do. If you are like me, you must be saying, "Obviously! Do we need a researcher to tell us that?"

Well, here is something that is not so obvious: People who enjoy shopping most are on the lowest incomes, while those who have higher incomes get less enjoyment out of this activity. To be specific, people with incomes below $8000 gave an average rating of 68 for "Shopping for yourself," while those with incomes above $100,000 gave it a rating of 61. While the rich get less pleasure from personal shopping, they seem to enjoy sex more than people with lower incomes.

People earning below $8,000 a year obtain about 20% more enjoyment out of chocolate and TV than those with incomes above $100,000. On the other hand, the latter group enjoys eating out more, in the same proportion. Perhaps, the wealthy don't worry too much about the bill when they eat out.

On the whole, people derive more pleasure from music, sex, sports, exercise, and eating out than they do from drinking, smoking, eating sweets and red meat. The average pleasure rating for the highest rated activity "music" was 79.7 and for the lowest rated activity, "eating red meat," was 55.8 The average P.Q., that is, the average total pleasure derived from all the activities combined was, 64.7.

So, which activities are at the top of your pleasure list and which are at the bottom? How does your P.Q. compare with your European counterparts? Are you missing out on the everyday pleasures or are you cashing in on them big time? Take comfort in the fact that all of us derive about the same amount of pleasure from ordinary pleasures of life, but our individual preferences vary.

My complaint with this study is that it tells us little about the higher order pleasures, that is, the degree of joy and satisfaction that people derive from such important things as relationships, work, faith, and their community. If the pleasure from the higher order things is less than the pleasure from such mundane things as drinking coffee, eating chocolate or watching TV, than there is something seriously wrong with the way we have organized our actions and priorities.

Aristotle once said, "The happiness depends on ourselves." So, our P.Q depends on our Priorities & Qualities we pursue in life.

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Copyright 2000, Mind Publications 


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