A new study led by researchers from the University of Stirling and Nottingham revealed that financial gain does not necessarily bring more happiness. Most of the time, some people do not really mind if their salaries have increased until they lost this source of income or there were changes in it.
The effects of the reduction in income are felt more by conscientious individuals or people who did everything energetically and efficiently in their lives or at their jobs. This convinced the researchers that happiness mainly depends on avoiding loss rather than receiving more money.
The nine-year-long study involved investigating the life satisfaction and income changes of more than 18,000 adults in Germany and the UK. The participants’ personalities, health changes and household make up were also taken into account.
They found that being conscientious makes an employee more miserable if his income is lost or reduced. Conscientious people were at least two and a half times more likely to feel the negative impact of income loss than those who are less conscientious.
“It is often assumed that as our income rises so does our life satisfaction. However, we have discovered that this is not the case,” says lead researcher Christopher Boyce of the Behavioural Science Centre at the University of Stirling. “What really matters is when income is lost and this is only important for people who are highly conscientious.”
“Continually increasing our income is not an important factor for achieving greater happiness and well-being for most people living in economically developed countries,” Boyce concludes. “Instead, we should aim for financial stability to achieve greater happiness, while protecting those individuals who experience negative income shocks.”
Another study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, on the other hand, argues that money can actually bring happiness. Having money to buy material things such as gadgets, a car or house result to repeated doses of happiness over time while spending it on experiential purchases such as visiting a museum or going to a concert provides a more intense but temporary dose of happiness.