IELTS Academic Reading Practice 21

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 27-40.

Questions 27-30

Look at the following Findings (Questions 27-30) and Investigative Bodies below.

Match the finding with the correct Investigative Body.

Write the correct number A-G in boxes Questions 27-30 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

Investigative Bodies
  1. The National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago
  2. Arizona State University
  3. The Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  4. Forbes Magazine
  5. The National Institute on Aging
  6. The Gallup Organization
  7. The Government

27. The people who report themselves as the happiest remain happy throughout life.
28. Happiness levels are marginally higher for Americans who are extremely wealthy.
29. Over fifty percent of Americans describe themselves as happy.
30. Happiness is not related to gender.
Questions 31-35

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 31-35 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

31. Happiness is a well-documented research area.
32. Research shows that happiness levels are higher than they had believed.
33. The research method social scientists used to measure happiness seem to be reliable.
34. Happiness levels have risen since 1957 in the U.S..
35. A gradual increase in prosperity makes no difference in how happy we are
Questions 36-40

Complete the summary using the list of words, A-K, below.

Incomes in the United States have over the past forty years, yet happiness levels have over the same period. According to research,  extremely rich people are only slightly happy than people with average incomes. In terms of national wealth, populations of wealthy nations are happier than those who live in poorer countries. Although in some cases this trend is and it appears that other factors need to be considered.


  1. more
  2. less
  3. reversed
  4. affected
  5. remarkably
  6. increased
  7. decreased
  8. slightly
  9. similar
  10. slowed down
  11. stopped

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


  • help Learn how to HIGHLIGHT & ADD NOTES
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    2. DRAG MOUSE OVER TEXT
    3. RIGHT CLICK SELECTED TEXT

Surveying Happiness

It seems that the concept of happiness is still fairly mysterious in the world of the social sciences in comparison to other emotions, like sadness. For instance, Psychological abstracts between the years 1967 and 1994 included 46,380 articles mentioning depression, 36,851 mentioning anxiety, and 5,099 mentioning anger. In the same time period, there were relatively few which discussed happiness -- just 2,389 mentions overall. Life satisfaction and joy were also rarely mentioned, with only 2,340 and 405 mentions, respectively.

In recent years, researchers have begun working on a joint empirical study of happiness. Dozens of scientific investigators have teamed up in the past twenty years, and are now gathering representative samples all over the world by surveying several hundred thousand people. Survey questions ask people to consider their happiness and satisfaction with life, more specifically, what psychologists refer to as a person’s "subjective well-being.” Since 1957, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has asked an annual representative sample of roughly 1,500 Americans. Meanwhile, albeit less regularly, the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan and the Gallup Organization have also  both been involved in similar types of research. In European countries, there has also been government-funded research into learning more about human emotion.

Some of the findings in these projects have been unexpected. Reported happiness does not seem to rely heavily on external circumstances, and the number of people who report being happy is higher than expected. Even though seeing life as being tragic has been a longstanding tradition throughout human history, random samples of people all over the world reporting their happiness gives a much more positive outlook. For instance, the results of surveys from the University of Chicago showed that three in every ten Americans say they’re very happy. The most unhappy description "not too happy" was only chosen by one in ten in the same survey, and the majority of those asked selected "pretty happy” to describe themselves.     

Is it possible for social scientists to actually measure happiness? Though the concept is difficult to define, researchers deal with this by keeping it simple. They ask people to assess and give their feelings of happiness or unhappiness, and to report their level of life-satisfaction. Over years of retesting, this kind of self-reported information on well-being remains moderately consistent. Moreover, people who say they are happy and satisfied also appear to be happy according to close friends and family members, as well as to a psychologist-interviewer. When ranking their daily moods, there are more positive emotions, and happier people also smile more than people who report being unhappy. Self-reported happiness may additionally be able to predict other signs of well-being. Lastly, happy people are less self-focused, less hostile and abusive, and less susceptible to disease than their depressed counterparts.

Happiness is evenly distributed throughout nearly every demographic classification, remaining the same regardless of age, economic class, race or educational level. What’s more, but most approaches intended to assess subjective well-being can claim similar findings to these, including surveys that sample people's experiences by polling them randomly with remote control devices. For example, in representative samples, interviews with people in all age ranges show no period of a person’s life as being significantly happier or unhappier. Findings amongst men and women are similar, with both sexes equally likely to report themselves as being "very happy" and "satisfied" with life, according to Marilyn J, Haring, William Stock and Morris A, Okun’s statistical digest of 146 studies at Arizona State University.

It also seems that money does not, in fact, buy happiness. As a culture becomes richer, people do not report higher levels of happiness. For example, with inflation rates considered, Americans make twice as much money as they were making in 1957. However, according to the National Opinion Research Center, the number of Americans who report that they are "very happy" has actually dropped from 35 to 29 percent.

The super wealthy appear to be only marginally happier than the average American, as reported in Forbes magazine’s 100 wealthiest Americans. For people with incomes that increased over a 10-year period and people with stagnated incomes, reported happiness levels are the same. In the majority of countries in the world, the correlation between income and happiness is not significant. It is only in the world’s poorest nations, such as Bangladesh and India, that income can be seen as an indicator of someone's happiness and satisfaction with life.

Could it be that those in wealthy nations are happier than those in poor nations? Generally, that seems to be the case, although it may not make much of a difference. For instance, only one in ten people report being very happy in the nation of Portugal, while four in ten report being very happy in the Netherlands, a wealthier nation. However, sometimes there are strange reversals in this correlation between a country’s wealth and reported levels of happiness. During the 1980s, people in Ireland consistently reported more life satisfaction than people in the richer country of West Germany. Moreover, it seems that variables which also promote reported life satisfaction, such as civil rights, literacy, and duration of democratic government, are found alongside national wealth. In light of this, finding whether the happiness of people in wealthier nations is based on money, or is a result of another factor seems to be impossible.

Even though levels of reported happiness cannot be guessed by looking at a person’s material circumstances alone, those who are happy consistently report feeling happy throughout their lives. In 1973, the National Institute on Aging surveyed 5,000 adults, and found that ten years later, the happiest people were still relatively happy, even when changes in their work, living place, and family status were considered.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Surveying Happiness

It seems that the concept of happiness is still fairly mysterious in the world of the social sciences in comparison to other emotions, like sadness. For instance, Psychological abstracts between the years 1967 and 1994 included 46,380 articles mentioning depression, 36,851 mentioning anxiety, and 5,099 mentioning anger. In the same time period, there were relatively few which discussed happiness -- just 2,389 mentions overall. Life satisfaction and joy were also rarely mentioned, with only 2,340 and 405 mentions, respectively.

In recent years, researchers have begun working on a joint empirical study of happiness. Dozens of scientific investigators have teamed up in the past twenty years, and are now gathering representative samples all over the world by surveying several hundred thousand people. Survey questions ask people to consider their happiness and satisfaction with life, more specifically, what psychologists refer to as a person’s "subjective well-being.” Since 1957, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has asked an annual representative sample of roughly 1,500 Americans. Meanwhile, albeit less regularly, the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan and the Gallup Organization have also  both been involved in similar types of research. In European countries, there has also been government-funded research into learning more about human emotion.

Some of the findings in these projects have been unexpected. Reported happiness does not seem to rely heavily on external circumstances, and the number of people who report being happy is higher than expected. Even though seeing life as being tragic has been a longstanding tradition throughout human history, random samples of people all over the world reporting their happiness gives a much more positive outlook. For instance, the results of surveys from the University of Chicago showed that three in every ten Americans say they’re very happy. The most unhappy description "not too happy" was only chosen by one in ten in the same survey, and the majority of those asked selected "pretty happy” to describe themselves.     

Is it possible for social scientists to actually measure happiness? Though the concept is difficult to define, researchers deal with this by keeping it simple. They ask people to assess and give their feelings of happiness or unhappiness, and to report their level of life-satisfaction. Over years of retesting, this kind of self-reported information on well-being remains moderately consistent. Moreover, people who say they are happy and satisfied also appear to be happy according to close friends and family members, as well as to a psychologist-interviewer. When ranking their daily moods, there are more positive emotions, and happier people also smile more than people who report being unhappy. Self-reported happiness may additionally be able to predict other signs of well-being. Lastly, happy people are less self-focused, less hostile and abusive, and less susceptible to disease than their depressed counterparts.

Happiness is evenly distributed throughout nearly every demographic classification, remaining the same regardless of age, economic class, race or educational level. What’s more, but most approaches intended to assess subjective well-being can claim similar findings to these, including surveys that sample people's experiences by polling them randomly with remote control devices. For example, in representative samples, interviews with people in all age ranges show no period of a person’s life as being significantly happier or unhappier. Findings amongst men and women are similar, with both sexes equally likely to report themselves as being "very happy" and "satisfied" with life, according to Marilyn J, Haring, William Stock and Morris A, Okun’s statistical digest of 146 studies at Arizona State University.

It also seems that money does not, in fact, buy happiness. As a culture becomes richer, people do not report higher levels of happiness. For example, with inflation rates considered, Americans make twice as much money as they were making in 1957. However, according to the National Opinion Research Center, the number of Americans who report that they are "very happy" has actually dropped from 35 to 29 percent.

The super wealthy appear to be only marginally happier than the average American, as reported in Forbes magazine’s 100 wealthiest Americans. For people with incomes that increased over a 10-year period and people with stagnated incomes, reported happiness levels are the same. In the majority of countries in the world, the correlation between income and happiness is not significant. It is only in the world’s poorest nations, such as Bangladesh and India, that income can be seen as an indicator of someone's happiness and satisfaction with life.

Could it be that those in wealthy nations are happier than those in poor nations? Generally, that seems to be the case, although it may not make much of a difference. For instance, only one in ten people report being very happy in the nation of Portugal, while four in ten report being very happy in the Netherlands, a wealthier nation. However, sometimes there are strange reversals in this correlation between a country’s wealth and reported levels of happiness. During the 1980s, people in Ireland consistently reported more life satisfaction than people in the richer country of West Germany. Moreover, it seems that variables which also promote reported life satisfaction, such as civil rights, literacy, and duration of democratic government, are found alongside national wealth. In light of this, finding whether the happiness of people in wealthier nations is based on money, or is a result of another factor seems to be impossible.

Even though levels of reported happiness cannot be guessed by looking at a person’s material circumstances alone, those who are happy consistently report feeling happy throughout their lives. In 1973, the National Institute on Aging surveyed 5,000 adults, and found that ten years later, the happiest people were still relatively happy, even when changes in their work, living place, and family status were considered.

 
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