Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Daytracker Study

The Daytracker Study was an investigation of the association of affective wellbeing and biology. There is converging evidence that positive affect is associated with better health and reduced risk of serious physical illness and this study is designed to examine how experiences in everyday life influence biology. The underlying hypothesis of the study is that positive psychological states stimulate advantageous biological responses which may reduce the risk of illness. The Daytracker Study tests how the activities and experiences, including feelings of positive wellbeing such as happiness, in everyday life influence biological correlates of wellbeing.

The study was originally carried out with 100 women working in London. The study was then expanded into an international comparison, involving 200 women from similar backgrounds in London, Budapest and Amsterdam. The same psychological and physiological measures were applied in each country, in order to assess the cross-national consistency of associations between well-being and biology. A smaller study has also been carried out in Southern Japan. A follow-up study using hair cortisol samples was conducted as part of Bianca Serwinski's PhD. 

This study was jointly funded by the National Institute of Aging in the USA and the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Data collection for this study was completed in 2016 but analyses and publications continue to be produced.

Principle Investigators: Professor Andrew Steptoe and Dr Samantha Dockray 

Collaborators: Professor Daniel Kahneman (Princeton University) and Professor Arthur Stone (Stony Brook University). Data collection in Budapest was coordinated by Gyöngyvér Salavecz and Maria Kopp from the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at Semmelweis University, and in Amsterdam by Gonneke Willemsen from the Department of Biological Psychology at the VU University Amsterdam