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Posts Tagged ‘money’

Why do people want more money?

Philosophers, economists, and researchers have been pondering that question for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. One reason for the question — more money does not contribute that much to a person’s happiness.

If that is true, then why do people want more money?

There could be several explanations, according to researchers.

First, it could be that people don’t realize more money will not raise their well-being, although this is suspect since in studies most people say that money is not that important in their hierarchy of values.

It could also be that people enjoy the goal of attaining higher incomes more than the money itself and what it represents.

One other explanation, according to researchers, is that people may seek money because it produces short-terms benefits, even though a person’s long-term happiness does not move.

And finally, people may feel a strong need to acquire money, goods and services simply because of societal pressure. Individuals may feel they need to buy things to gain status and not be perceived as failures.

Whatever the reason, the research remains pretty strong — once a minimum level of existence or income occurs — higher income has only a modest impact on a person’s long-term happiness.

Source: Will money increase subjective well-being? Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. Social Indicators Research, 57, 119-169 (2002).

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Psychological studies have consistently linked materialism or financial aspirations with unhappy and unsatisfied lives.

But recent research shows a more complex picture.

For example, one study found that the financial aspirations of those more highly educated leaned towards higher happiness levels compared to people with low educational levels. At the same time, people with high materialism and strong religious beliefs had lower subjective well-being levels compared to people with higher financial aspirations but a lower religious commitment.

Adding to the complexity — research suggests that while financial aspirations do pull life satisfaction down, household income tends to pull it up. That begs the question — how do most people achieve higher household incomes? Through financial aspirations, of course.

A classic Catch-22.

Aspiring to financial success won’t contribute to your happiness, but a higher income will. No wonder improving happiness through money often feels like a land mine.

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Money may not buy you happiness, only more chores.

Numerous studies have looked at how money fits into one’s overall evaluation of happiness and the results may surprise you.

For example, one study showed that income played an insignificant role in day-to-day happiness. Researchers expected that those who made less than $20,000 a year would spend 32 percent more of their time in a bad mood than those that had an annual income greater than $100,000. In reality, the low-income group spent only 12 percent more time in a bad mood than their wealthier counterparts.

Researchers also examined Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that those with higher incomes had more chores and less fun. According to government statistics, men who make more than $100,000 a year spend 19.9 percent of their time on passive leisure activities such as watching television and socializing. Meanwhile, men whose annual income were less than $20,000 spent more than 34 percent of their time dedicated to passive leisure.

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