Can more money actually make you less happy?


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Looks like money might make us less able to appreciate not only the things it allows us to buy, but everyday positive feelings as well:

This study provides the first evidence that money impairs people’s ability to savor everyday positive emotions and experiences. In a sample of working adults, wealthier individuals reported lower savoring ability (the ability to enhance and prolong positive emotional experience). Moreover, the negative impact of wealth on individuals’ ability to savor undermined the positive effects of money on their happiness. We experimentally exposed participants to a reminder of wealth and produced the same deleterious effect on their ability to savor as that produced by actual individual differences in wealth, a result supporting the theory that money has a causal effect on savoring. Moving beyond self-reports, we found that participants exposed to a reminder of wealth spent less time savoring a piece of chocolate and exhibited reduced enjoyment of it compared with participants not exposed to wealth. This article presents evidence supporting the widely held but previously untested belief that having access to the best things in life may actually undercut people’s ability to reap enjoyment from life’s small pleasures.

Source: “Money Giveth, Money Taketh Away, The Dual Effect of Wealth on Happiness” from Psychological Science, June 2010

The super-wealthy aren’t that much happier than the average person. Once you make 75K a year, more money doesn’t make you all that much happier. To paraphrase Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert, we’re really bad at remembering and predicting what makes us happy. Spending money makes us happy primarily when we use it to connect with others.

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