New study looks at how income impacts how we experience happiness
Well, this is rich.
Money doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness — instead, “your wealth predisposes you to different kinds of happiness,” says Dr. Paul Piff of the University of California, Irvine, whose latest study was published online Monday in the journal Emotion. So wealthier individuals tend “to experience more positive emotions focused on themselves” while poorer individuals tend to “take greater pleasure in their relationships and ability to connect with others,” a summary of the study concluded.
In the study of more than 1,500 Americans, participants were asked about their household income — incomes ranged from less than $5,000 to more than $175,000 a year — and many of the emotions that make up happiness, like amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love and pride. So, for example, you might be asked to rate how much you agreed with a statement like “nurturing others gives me a warm feeling inside.”
The results: when wealthier people feel happier it tends to stem from emotions that are more self-oriented, like pride and contentment. (A separate study also found that richer people are more likely to have narcissistic qualities.) Meanwhile, for the less wealthy, happiness is more focused on feelings towards others like compassion and love. Plus, poorer people also reported experiencing more awe and beauty in the world around them.
Why might this be? “Whereas pride and contentment may reflect upper class individuals’ desire for independence and self-sufficiency, increased love and compassion may help lower class individuals form more harmonious, interdependent bonds to help cope with their more threatening environments,” the researchers concluded in the study.
Of course, wealth offers many benefits that may boost happiness. For example, wealthier people tend to be in better health, and better health has an impact on some people’s happiness. And wealthy people who spend their money in certain ways — namely to buy themselves more free time — can boost their overall happiness.
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