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It’s official: money CAN buy happiness, reveals first ever pleasure scale

Neuroscientists have revealed how everyday pleasure rank against each other, and it’s official: money CAN buy you happiness – a burst of it at least. In association with chocolate brand Beyond Dark and technology company Myndplay, the first ever 'measure for pleasure' has been formulated.

In an economy where every penny counts, an unexpected windfall generated the highest and most sustained level of pleasure amongst all participants. And winning £10 was all it took to dramatically increase people’s feelings of pleasure.

Following closely behind this was the level of pleasure generated by affection. Testing enjoyment created by stroking both puppies and kittens, puppies generated the highest feeling of pleasure in all participants, proving the belief that dogs really are a man’s best friend.

It's good news if you've resolved to cut down on your chocolate consumption this January. The test also proved just a tiny taste is all it takes to generate a significant pleasure boost. "We were surprised to find just a single drop of dark chocolate generated more pleasure than listening to a concert violinist or stroking a kitten – and only slightly less than stroking a puppy", said Kevin Nester, Beyond Dark founder."

Clinical Psychologist Dr Funke Baffour commented, “We’re all so busy rushing through life, it’s easy to miss the moments of pleasure. Creating a scale like this reminds us there are certain things we can control every day to significantly boost our levels of pleasure, helping us combat depressing times like Blue Monday. Whether it’s listening to beautiful music, giving someone a compliment or simply taking more time to show affection to your pets or loved ones."

Recording people’s brainwaves while they were placed in different situations, neuroscientists from Birkbeck University have calibrated the first-ever scale to measure pleasure. Using MyndPlay EEG (electroencephalography) headsets to measure an individual’s brain activity, neuroscientists were able to create a scale enabling them to place a numerical value on the level of pleasure people gain from different experiences. Rating between -100(most displeasurable) and +100 (most pleasurable) and based on intensity and duration of brain activity, various emotions such as affection, play, good fortune, visual stimulation and achievement were tested.

Women were found to find life more pleasurable, recording an average of 66.4 on the pleasure scale, while men fell behind at 58.2.

In addition men were revealed as most affected by winning money, scoring as high as 90.1 when they were surprised with £10, while women were less impressed, scoring 79.3.

The aim of the 80 participant study was to create a linear scale that could allow people to apply a numerical measure on the level of pleasure they experience. Such a scale has long been proposed by scientists (The Hedon) but never successfully formulated. For the first time ever this scale has been produced; perfect for what is commonly known as the most depressing day of the year. Typically the 3rd Monday in January, Blue Monday is known to be the time of year when people are struggling to recover from the cost of Christmas, are likely to have broken their New Year’s Resolutions and are finding it difficult to stick to new healthy regimes. The Measure for Pleasure can finally provide some definition on what experiences people find the most pleasurable, rating them in order of the strength of feelings they generate, offering some antidotes to Blue Monday.

Notes to editors:

- For media enquiries please contact Laura Bruce: / 02073091040

- 80 participants took part

- The experiment was held at Ravensbourne College, Greenwich on 4th December 2012.

- Mobile headsets were used to monitor participants’ brainwaves using EEG technology. Please visit for more information

- Beyond Dark is a premium dark chocolate brand. Containing up to 3 times more antioxidants than other standard chocolate brands - the equivalent of 25 oranges, 8 bananas or 5 apples is found in every 35g pack. They are sold in Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett, Harrods and over 200 independent retailers. –For more information please visit

- See the 2 min documentary at

- Embed the Measure Pleasure video via Vimeo

- Please see below a table of results ranked in order of pleasure.

Good Fortune Unexpected windfall of money 82.9
Affection Playing with puppies 67.5
Taste Beyond Dark chocolate 65
Affection Playing with kittens 64.1
Sound Concert violinist playing well 61
Taste Green & Blacks chocolate 54
Taste Divine chocolate 52
Visual Stimulation Positive images (eg. Baby, a smile) 50.9
Visual Stimulation Negative images (eg.rotten teeth, crying baby) -38.4
Sound Concert violinist playing badly -55.7