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The Hedonic Impact of Stand-Alone Emotional Harms: an Analysis of Survey Data
Law and Psychology Review (2012)
  • David E. DePianto, Arizona State University

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.

  • torts,
  • damages,
  • happiness,
  • well-being,
  • emotional
Publication Date
Citation Information
David E. DePianto. "The Hedonic Impact of Stand-Alone Emotional Harms: an Analysis of Survey Data" Law and Psychology Review Vol. 36 (2012)
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