Can money can buy happiness?
Multimillionaires have said their well-being isn’t just about the money.
But it has been proven that people who spend money on experiences — as opposed to stuff — are happier.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Michigan State University decided to tweak the question of money and happiness, and instead look at money’s effect on sadness.
The researchers — Kostadin Kushlev, Elizabeth W. Dunn, and Richard E. Lucas — found that while those with a higher income aren’t any happier on a daily basis, they are less sad.
To conduct the study, the researchers measured the incomes of over 12,000 respondents taken from the 2010 US census. Two to five months later, those respondents were asked to reconstruct a past day, and then rate how happy or sad they were during that day.
The results showed that people with higher incomes reported feeling less sad, but no more or less happy.
“The present findings provide the first evidence that the emotional advantage of higher income may lie in buffering people against sadness rather than boosting happiness,” the authors conclude.
So how does money act as a “buffer” against sadness?
According to the researchers, the answer has a lot to do with how wealth can make it easier to deal with negative life events.
To the extent that having more money provides more options for dealing with adversity, wealthier people may feel a greater sense of control than poorer people when difficult situations arise. Coming home to discover a leak in the roof, for example, may be an annoying, but easily resolved, stressor for a well-off individual; in contrast, someone who could not afford to have the problem fixed right away might be plagued by this problem for months.
The bottom line: A bigger paycheck may not put a smile on your face, but it certainly wipes off that frown.
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