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I'd like to know if it's possible to quantify somebody's "fun meter". Maybe by measuring the amount of endorphin produced. Because every person is unique, I don't expect that amount to make another person feel exactly as much satisfaction, but I'm ready to be proven wrong.

Are there any existing methods to objectively measure pleasure?

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    $\begingroup$ You can get pretty far just by asking people how much fun they're having. $\endgroup$ – Jake Westfall Nov 13 '13 at 1:05
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    $\begingroup$ metro.co.uk/2013/01/25/… $\endgroup$ – Greg McNulty Nov 14 '13 at 0:02
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    $\begingroup$ @user1306322 emlab.berkeley.edu/wp/mcfadden0105/ScienceofPleasure.pdf $\endgroup$ – Greg McNulty Nov 14 '13 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ Well you can measure the presence of dopamine, but it is not the entireity of what pleasure is. You could also look into the brain how much the pleasure zone is activated. $\endgroup$ – WaterBearer Nov 14 '13 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ Pupil dilation? Self-report? Pleasure is a vague term, so you'd need to define it more carefully. $\endgroup$ – gabiwab Apr 8 '17 at 22:35
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This is a very general answer to your question. And let me say upfront that I don't know about any measurement instruments for pleasure. However, I would like to emphasize that pleasure, just as about any psychological phenomenon, has to be considered a latent construct. What this means is that it cannot be measured directly, but only indirectly and imperfectly through a bunch of indicators. It is actually important to have more than one indicator in order to estimate how reliable the measurement is. Since you asked wether it is possible to measure pleasure or not, my answer is yes.

The question then becomes what the indicators are, that allow one to measure the amount of pleasure someone is experienceing. They should be derived from a theory about what pleasure is. In the reference that @GregMcNulty gives in the comments, for instance, the amount of pleasure is measured predominantly by activity in the prefrontal cortex. But it is also stated that "From a biological perspective, pleasure is not a unitary experience in the brain. It’s not just one region that is activated when we find pleasure in something or someone." That's speaking to the notion of having more than one indicator.

Whatever way you do it, though, you will have to come up with a good theory on what pleasure is and then find indicators. And with a construct as complex as pleasure, it is important to keep in mind that you will always have measurement error.

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  • $\begingroup$ this is still a good answer and am upvoting. however, i believe you are thoroughly wrong. although it is possible to have an objective measure of a latent construct, a priori, it is not possible to objectively measure said construct. $\endgroup$ – faustus Apr 11 '17 at 16:02
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You could also choose a wider path by measuring a person emotion, and deduce a level of pleasure from these results. There are three useful components in order to record an emotion :

  • The behavioral component is mostly turned towards face analysis. The user may not be aware of his face change, but he may control it... So it's not the perfect objective tool. There are computer-based softwares to analyse such emotions from a face analysis.
  • The cognitive component consists basically to ask how the person feel through robust questionnaires. There are several questionnaires involving emotional terms or not. However, this is a very subjective source.
  • The physiological component may be a quite relevant resource for you as it is objective: the person is not able to control his physiological response. There are numerous different physiological responses of emotional change, but I would rather choose the galvanic skin reponse (GSR). However, this will objectivly bring forward an emotional response, without being able to qualify it.

Therefore, it is important to use a combinaison of these resources in order to get an objective way of assessing pleasure.

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There are different kinds of "well being". However, regarding pleasure, I'd rather suggest measuring the level of dopamine released, instead of endorphins. Watch this: dopamine release comparison. Anyways, there are other neurotransmitters that produce euphoria, such as endorphins and endocannabinoids. Music, food and sex induce dopamine release, but aerobic exercise "runner's high" is related to endorphins, as well as endocannabinoids. Additionally, alcohol and other CNS depressants and anaesthetics such as "laughing gas" (nitrous oxide) do produce euphoria too, so the phenomenon of pleasure is certainly difficult to define in a biological way.

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