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Money does not buy happiness? But yes: science confirms it

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Does earning more make us happier? It seems so. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, looking for a definitive answer, have found a consistent correlation between higher income and greater happiness for most people.

Previous studies have led to contradictory conclusions: the important work published in 2010 by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton Princeton University It was found that daily happiness increased as annual income increased, but above $75,000 (about 70,000 euros) happiness leveled off. In contrast, the work was published in 2021 before Matthew Killingsworth affiliateUniversity of Pennsylvania It was found that happiness increased steadily with incomes exceeding $75,000.

Therefore, the two research institutions allied themselves in what is known as a hostile collaboration, joining forces with a professor Bin integrates knowledge university Barbara Millersas a referee.
In a new article from National Academy of SciencesThe trio shows that, on average, higher incomes are associated with higher levels of happiness than ever before.
However, upon closer examination, the relationship becomes more complex, showing that within this general trend, there is a sharp increase in happiness of $100,000 a year but then plateaus.
“These results suggest that for most people, higher incomes are associated with higher happiness,” says Killingsworth of Ben Wharton School The lead author of the study. “The exception is people who are financially well-off but unhappy. For example, if you are rich and unhappy, having more money won’t help. However, for others, having more money is associated with greater happiness, albeit to a different degree.” a little.

Millers elaborates on the latter idea, noting that it is not Emotional well-being and income are not correlated. “The job is different based on the different levels of people’s emotional well-being,” he says. Specifically, for members of the least happy group, happiness increases with income of $100,000, but no further growth is seen as earnings increase. However, for those in the middle range of emotional well-being, happiness increases linearly with income, and for the happiest group the association actually accelerates past $100,000.

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Unity is strength (from results)

The researchers began this joint analysis by acknowledging that their previous work had reached contradictory conclusions. Kahneman’s 2010 study showed a flat pattern that Killingsworth’s 2021 study did not.

In the present analysis, Killingsworth, Kahneman, and Millers focused on a new hypothesis according to them There is a happy majority and an unhappy minority. For the former, they assumed it Happiness continues to grow as more money comes in; The happiness of this group It improves with increasing income but only to a certain extent, and then it does not progress further. To test this new hypothesis, they looked for a flattening pattern in data from the Killingworth study, which they collected through an app they created and called Track your happiness. Several times a day, the app asked participants a series of questions at random times, including how they were feeling on a range of responses ranging from “very good” to “very bad.” By calculating a person’s average happiness and income, Killingsworth drew his own conclusions about how the two variables are related.

A NEP breakthrough came when researchers realized that the 2010 data, which revealed the happiness curve, measures unhappiness rather than happiness. Once this is recognized, the two seemingly contradictory outcomes no longer seem so incompatible. “What we found fully confirmed this possibility,” says Killingsworth. “When we looked at the happiness trend of unhappy people in the 2021 data, we found the exact same pattern we found in 2010; Happiness increases relatively sharply with income and then levels declineThe two results that seemed so diametrically opposed actually come from surprisingly consistent data.”

Summary of the above

The results collected lead to a better understanding of the relationship between money and happiness. And those findings, according to Killingsworth, have real-world implications, too. First, they can provide information regarding tax rates or how employees are compensated. And, of course, it matters to people who make career choices or value income above other life priorities,” says Killingsworth. However, she also adds that for emotional well-being, money isn’t everything. “Money is just one of many factors that determines happiness,” he explains. «It’s not the secret to happiness, but it sure helps».

More stories from Vanity Fair Which may interest you are:

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