Researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted a study with 350 participants to investigate the relationship between money and enjoying life. The adult participants had salaries ranging from $225,000 to $10,500. They were asked to imagine how they would respond to a range of pleasure yielding experiences such as going on a romantic vacation or discovering a waterfall while hiking.
They were asked to indicate in which ways they would savor the pleasure:
Display positive emotions
Staying in the moment
Sharing the experience
Anticipating or reminiscing about it
Responses from the participants were plotted according to salary levels. The results showed the wealthier people reported savoring the scenarios less. In addition, the participants were shown images of money during the imagining of the two scenarios, and that also decreased the amount of pleasure they enjoyed. A related study showed participants images of money while they were eating chocolate, and the study subjects enjoyed the chocolate less.
Psychology Professor Elizabeth Dunn said of the study, “Our previous research suggested that people tend to spend money on things that don’t make them happy, now we see that the very idea of money can reduce our ability to enjoy the little pleasures of daily life.”
Another recent study suggests there is some happiness related to having money, but the effect is limited. Barbara L. Fredrickson from UNC-Chapel Hill commented on the research, “But positive feelings like enjoyment and laughing can do a whole lot more for people. They can help people grow and learn and become a more resilient, better version of yourself.”
Having enough money to meet one’s needs is a requirement, because stress generally results when things like food, water, shelter and healthcare are missing. However, this research does point to one of the downsides of material excess. Once your needs are met, too much attention on money might be a burden. There is actually a field called happiness economics which attempts to understand the relationship between happiness and money.
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