Money may not buy you happiness, but it can make you less sad.

By Seriously Science | January 27, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Tax Credits

Photo: flickr/Tax Credits

We’ve previously discussed how having money can make you feel less pain. So it probably makes you happy too, right? Well, not so fast. This study used census data to test whether higher income is associated with happiness or sadness. Interestingly, they found that although people with money are not happier on a daily basis, they are less sad. Sound paradoxical? According to the authors, “happiness and sadness are distinct emotional states, rather than diametric opposites” — that is, just because you’re not sad doesn’t automatically mean you’re happy. So what do you do if you have money and you want to feel happy? One suggestion supported by data is to spend your money on experiences, not purchases. You’re welcome, 1%ers.

Higher Income Is Associated With Less Daily Sadness but not More Daily Happiness

“Although extensive previous research has explored the relationship between income and happiness, no large-scale research has ever examined the relationship between income and sadness. Yet, happiness and sadness are distinct emotional states, rather than diametric opposites, and past research points to the possibility that wealth may have a greater impact on sadness than happiness. Using data from a diverse cross section of the U.S. population (N = 12,291), we show that higher income is associated with experiencing less daily sadness, but has no bearing on daily happiness. This pattern of findings could not be explained by relevant demographics, stress, and people’s daily time use. Although causality cannot be inferred from this correlational data set, the present findings point to the possibility that money may be a more effective tool for reducing sadness than enhancing happiness.”

Related content:
I’m so rich, I’m allergic to money.
Money can’t buy you love, but it can reduce your pain.
Which makes you happier: anticipating an experience or a purchase?

  • AG

    “experiences, not purchases.”
    That makes sense. Novelty seeking, exotic place traveling are explained.


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