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CAN MONEY BUY HAPPINESS? L. Etherington, H. Gwilt & S. Phylaktou.

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Presentation on theme: "CAN MONEY BUY HAPPINESS? L. Etherington, H. Gwilt & S. Phylaktou."— Presentation transcript:

1 CAN MONEY BUY HAPPINESS? L. Etherington, H. Gwilt & S. Phylaktou

2 Overview Introduction Research Paper 1: Money and mental wellbeing (Gardner, J. & Oswald, A. J., 2006) Research Paper 2: Money matters, but less than people think (Aknin, L. B., Norton, M. I. & Dunn, E. W., 2009) Suggested Improvements Other research Conclusion

3 Introduction Money is power People = Risk Aversive Loss = Painful (activates anterior insula, associated with pain and disgust) Changing population Increase of women in work: doubled since 1950’s Family size decreasing: 1.8 children per couple Caldwell (1976): children = economic liabilities University studies – why are we here? Dillow (2012), Livesey & Lawson (2008), Heathfield, USA GOV (2003)

4 Paper 1: Lottery Wins and Wellbeing Aims Aimed to see effect of lottery wins on wellbeing Method Longitudinal Study 137 medium-sized lottery wins between Compared to 2 control groups; small wins and no wins Used GHQ scores from the BHPS to gain an objective measure of mental wellbeing Gardner, J. & Oswald, A. J. (2006)

5 Results On average, mental stress increases in year of win Mental wellbeing increases after two years (1.4 drop in GHQ) Similar increase for both sexes, men slightly larger Conclusions Winning the lottery is associated with improved mental wellbeing Gardner, J. & Oswald, A. J. (2006)

6 CritiqueSuggested Improvements Objective measurement of well being –GHQ score N/A Experiment using control groups - increased validity N/A Culturally dependentMulti-cultural sample Small sample – only 137Larger Sample Concluded increase in wellbeing was result of lottery winning - presumption? Need to measure other life factors. Should have explicitly asked. Unable to measure adaptation to money over long period Should have followed up Boundaries between medium sized wins and small wins are too small Should have boundaries that are more separate

7 Paper 2: Money matters, but less than people think Part 1: Predicting wellbeing of others based on household income Aims Examine the accuracy of laypeoples intuition about relationship between household income and wellbeing of others Method 429 Americans reported annual income from list of categories “How would you rate your life overall these days?” Consider 10 different household incomes, asked to predict the life satisfaction of someone at each income level Aknin, L. B., Norton, M. I. & Dunn, E. W. (2009)

8 Results People on higher incomes reported greater happiness Accurately estimated higher levels of household income with greater happiness Overestimated the unhappiness of those in lower income households

9 Part 2: Predicating wellbeing of oneself based household income Aims Test validity of part 1 – i.e. should still wrongly predict the association between money and happiness Method 315 Americans reported annual income from list of categories “How would you rate your life overall these days?” Consider 10 different household incomes, asked to predict the life satisfaction of themselves at each income level. Aknin, L. B., Norton, M. I. & Dunn, E. W. (2009) Study 2: Money matters, but less than people think

10 Aknin, L. B., Norton, M. I. & Dunn, E. W. (2009) Results Showed consistency when predicting their own and others happiness Results support findings of Study 1 Conclusions Vastly overestimate emotional cost associated with being poor… i.e. money matters, but less than people think

11 Critique CritiquesSuggested Improvements Rewards for participation – increased motivation N/A Used consistent methodology across both parts of study N/A Culturally dependentMulti-cultural sample Subjective measurement of wellbeing Need standardized, objective measurement 2 Different SamplesWithin subjects design

12 Other Research Diener et al. (2010) - conducted a study on wealth and happiness. Used worldwide sample of subjects and found that long term income changes are more related to positive life evaluations not feelings. The ONS has found that being married is 20 times more important to a person’s well-being than their earnings, so the increase in wellbeing in the lottery study may have been due to other factors such as getting married. P. Brickman, D. Coates, & R. Janoff-Bulman (1978) – lottery winners were not happier than controls and took significantly less pleasure from a series of mundane events. Found not to be due to pre-existing differences. Evidence for adaption level theory.

13 Adaptation Level Theory vs. Assimilation Contrast Theory Will you always need more? Adaptation Level Theory: Contrast + Habituation = No increase Vs. Assimilation Contrast Theory: Original Judgment + Attitude = Anchor = Increase Helson, H (1947), American Journal of Psychology

14 Investigating within the student environment May get a different relationship between wealth and happiness among students compared to middle aged adults. Use an anonymous questionnaire to gain info such as: Amount of debt they will be in after graduating How much money they are given each month from parents Whether they receive more than the standard loan or any loan at all Use a previous measure for rating happiness/wellbeing such as the GHQ measure.

15 Evidence that winning big doesn’t lead to a better life or happiness: Michael Carroll nicknamed ‘lotto lout’ won £9.7million on the lottery Blew all his winnings on drugs, prostitutes and cars Been in court over 30 times and jailed for the drug offences Now works in a biscuit factory earning £6 an hour Claims he is now happier Papworth (2013)

16 Conclusions Evidence for and against money buying happiness Paper 2 more in favor of Adaptation Level Theory Paper 1 more in favor of Assimilation Theory – needs to be longer? Happiness is very subjective Maybe it buys happiness up to a certain extent, but there are other more influential factors that should be considered i.e. marriage Maybe if you actually earn the money, as opposed to being handed it (i.e. the lottery), you have a greater respect for it and therefore it makes you happier for longer – further research?

17 "It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed" - Kin Hubbard “If you want to feel rich, count the things that money can’t buy” “There are people who have money, and people who are rich” – Coco Chanel “Wealth without work, one of the seven deadly sins” – Ghandi “If you realise that you have enough, you are truly rich” – Lao Tzu

18 ANY QUESTIONS?

19 References Aknin, L. B., Norton, M. I. & Dunn, E. W. (2009). From wealth to well-being? Money Matters, but less than people think. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, Brickman, P., Coates, D., Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, Diener, E. et al. (2010). Wealth and Happiness Across the World: Material Prosperity Predicts Life Evaluation, Whereas Psychosocial Prosperity Predicts Positive Feeling. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, Dillow, C. (2012, January). Lost money? You should forget about it. Retrieved from:http://www.ezonomics.com/blogs/lost_money_you_should_forget_about_it /http://www.ezonomics.com/blogs/lost_money_you_should_forget_about_it / Gardner, J. & Oswald, A. J. (2006). Money and mental wellbeing: A longitudinal study of medium-sized lottery wins. Journal of Health Economics, 26, Heathfield, S. Women and work: Then, now, and predicting the future for women in the workplace. Human Resources. Helson, H. (1947). Adaptation-Level as Frame of Reference for prediction of psychophysical data. The American Journal of Psychology, 60, 1-29.

20 References Livesey, C. & Lawson, T. (2008). Family Households. AS Sociology for AQA. 2; Retrieved from: Papworth, A. (2013). Norfolk lottery winner Michael Carroll now earns £6 an hour. EDP 24. Retrieved from: ns_6_an_hour_1_ ns_6_an_hour_1_ Swinford, S. (2013, May). Marriage makes people happier than six figure salaries and religion Marriage. Retrieved from: happier-than-six-figure-salaries-and-religion.html USA GOV (2003). Achievements in public health: Family Planning. CDC. 48; Retrieved from:


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