Daniel Gilbert’s pursuit of the scientific basis of happiness has won him the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, it was announced on Tuesday (May 15). “Stumbling on Happiness,” which draws on psychology and neuroscience, as well as personal experience, explores the various ways people attempt to make themselves happy. Gilbert, who is a professor of psychology and a Harvard College Professor, uses science to show that it is not always through conventional routes that we find happiness.

Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, recently presented the prize (which includes a monetary award of 10,000 British pounds) to Gilbert at a ceremony held at the society in London.

“Stumbling on Happiness” triumphed over other strong contenders on the short list to win the prestigious award for science writing.

Professor Colin Pillinger, chair of the judges, said, “‘Stumbling on Happiness’ is an outstanding and highly readable winner of this year’s Royal Society Prize for Science Books. Daniel Gilbert’s voice provides a witty companion throughout this exploration of the science behind the pursuit of happiness — an issue which fascinates us all. He uses cognitive science and psychology to provide intriguing insights into human nature, helping us to understand why we make the decisions we do.”

Gilbert commented, “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this tremendous honor from the world’s oldest learned society. There are very few countries (including my own) where a somewhat cheeky book about happiness could win a science prize — but the British invented intellectual humor and have always understood that enlightenment and entertainment are natural friends. So God bless the empire!”

The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the society has three roles: as the United Kingdom’s academy of science, as a learned society, and as a funding agency.