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St. Pete Chamber launches new ‘Happiness Study’

Ashley Morales

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Over the next year, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Eckerd College will join forces to examine what brings the most happiness to the working residents of St. Pete. Photo: City of St. Petersburg.

The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Eckerd College have joined forces to launch the “Sunshine City Happiness Study,” a new project aimed at understanding the factors influencing the well-being of working individuals in St. Petersburg. The collaborative initiative sets out to explore the relationship between local conditions and worker happiness. 

“The idea came from some soul searching from our work here at the Chamber,” said Chris Steinocher, President and CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve been so successful in growing our economy and our community, but I really believe it’s important that we understand from the people who are here, what does make us happier?”

To explore the topic of happiness, researchers are seeking the participation of 300 people in St. Pete who are currently employed to respond to short weekly surveys over the course of one year. The surveys are designed to capture a snapshot of participants’ emotions and experiences, enabling Eckerd’s research team to analyze trends and correlations that may reveal the impact of various factors on happiness in the workplace.

“Did you go to a park? Did you go hang out with friends? Did you change jobs? Did you eat out at a restaurant, go to beach or use public transportation? Those different sorts of things that we think might affect people’s happiness,” said Dr. Nicholas Dempsey, Associate Professor of Sociology at Eckerd College and lead researcher for the Sunshine City Happiness Study.

“We might occasionally ask a few special questions, as well, like has the city been doing infrastructure work on your block, topics sprinkled in from time to time to see what different things affect people’s happiness and well-being.”

The research team will use Qualtrics survey software to poll the 300 participants each week. Anyone can sign up to participate in the survey, but researchers plan to select participants who match the city’s demographics.

“[The survey results] will help everybody understand the pulse of those who we serve,” said Steinocher. “Our goal is to identify what makes people say St. Pete is moving in the right direction. We want to make sure our community reinforces and supports the things we care about and value and stays away from things that we don’t.”

Dempsey says only the researchers at Eckerd will have access to data that has personal information, and any data released publicly will be scrubbed of identifying details. Their goal is to share insights gained from the Happiness Study but also to protect those who take part in the weekly surveys. Dempsey also noted that this survey is the first of its kind in the St. Pete area: “People have studied happiness and well-being in the past, and we’ve done some comparisons at the county level, but as far as I know, this is going to be the first survey that over time focuses on people in one city area.”

Participants won’t be paid for their responses to the survey, but they will have a chance to win items from the Chamber’s St. Pete Store. Researchers are hoping to start sending the weekly surveys in December.

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    Charlie Guy, President

    November 12, 2023at9:40 am

    What a great idea!! On behalf of our Sunshine Greenway multimodal (bikes & buses) project, we hope they will also consider the efficiency & enjoyment of having local, safe, & free bicycle transportation that will also attract many more biking visitors wishing to explore our Pinellas Peninsular via the Pinellas Trail Loop.
    Charlie Guy, President

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