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Can money really buy happiness?

January 11, 2018
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As the cliché goes: “money can’t buy happiness.” But is that really true? Yes and no. According to new research originally explored by Medical News Today, money can only buy a certain type of happiness. It is all about what individuals value and how they balance life. In a study published in the journal Emotion and conducted by Paul K. Piff, Ph.D., and Jake P. Moskowitz, both from the University of California, Irvine, the correlation between different incomes and a range of positive emotions was examined. Piff preludes with “higher income has many benefits, included improved health and life satisfaction, but is it associated with greater happiness?” To answer this question, the researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,519 Americans. The participants were asked to answer questions about seven positive emotions considered central to happiness. These emotions were amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love, and pride. Questions such as agreeing or disagreeing with the statements “nurturing others gives me a warm feeling inside” or “it feels good to know that people look up to me” were used to measure the various emotions. Participants were also asked about their household income. It was found that those who had a higher income were more likely to experience emotions that focused on themselves, such as pride, contentment, and amusement. While those with a lower income were more likely to experience emotions centered on others such as compassion and love. Lower-income individuals were also likelier to feel awe and an overwhelming sense of beauty in the world. "These findings indicate that wealth is not unequivocally associated with happiness," says Piff. "What seems to be the case," he explains, "is that your wealth predisposes you to different kinds of happiness. While wealthier individuals may find greater positivity in their accomplishments, status, and individual achievements, less wealthy individuals seem to find more positivity and happiness in their relationships, their ability to care for and connect with others." In other words, having money appears to make it easier to achieve only a certain kind of happiness, while not having money seems to push individuals to find joy in other aspects of their lives.
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