What’s your pleasure? Dr Desirée Kozlowski launches the National Pleasure Audit

Published 1 February 2022
Woman laying in the grass

A nationwide survey investigating the nature and extent of Australians’ pleasures has been launched this week by Southern Cross University Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Dr Desirée Kozlowski.

The National Pleasure Audit aims to provide a snapshot of where people find pleasure, how much of it they find, as well as how often and how strongly they experience certain positive feelings. The survey is open to all Australians over 18.

“We want to know more about the link between wellbeing and experiencing pleasure. The evidence is growing very strongly to show that increasing our range of pleasurable experiences is associated with a number of benefits, from reducing perceived stress, depression and anxiety to boosting our immune function and even to longevity,” Dr Kozlowski said.

A specialist in the research field of pleasure and emotional intelligence, Dr Kozlowski defines pleasure simply as ‘something that feels enjoyable’, with the small things often playing the biggest part.

“If we build a variety of more small pleasures each day we increase our resilience. From stopping to enjoy the smell of coffee and the warm feeling of the cup in your hand, to stepping into a hot shower, or walking on the grass with no shoes on, all these things can reduce our anxiety and stress,” she explains.

“The way this works is by activating the equal but opposite arm of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic division, and that's all about rest and restoration,” Dr Kozlowski said.

The National Pleasure Audit not only asks respondents to consider what gives them pleasure, but to quantify how much time and value they place on maximising the experience. This can be through positive anticipation of a pleasurable experience, savouring the moment, or positive reminiscing.    

According to Dr Kozlowski, there is evidence that the act of savouring enhances the positive effects of pleasure, with some people more inclined to savour, or maximise, their experiences of pleasure.

“There is also evidence that savouring can be increased through training and that such increases can produce an upward spiral of benefits over sustained periods. This kind of intervention can also reduce anxiety and depression,” she said.

Data from the survey will be used to inform Dr Kozlowski’s research into pleasure and provide foundations for future work on boosting pleasure in order to improve health and quality of life.

The National Pleasure Audit is an anonymous online survey consisting of questions about experiences that people find to be pleasurable, together with validated measures of psychological wellbeing, positive and negative affect, and tendency toward savouring.

You can participate in The National Pleasure Audit and distribute the link to others who might be interested: www.NationalPleasureAudit.com The survey will remain open until 31 March, 2022.

Media contact: Media and content team content@scu.edu.au