Saturday, June 12, 2021

Psychologists uncover new details about how money influences the frequency and intensity of happiness

By Beth Ellwood of PsyPost. PsyPost is a psychology and neuroscience news website. 

Economists believe in the law of diminishing marginal utility. As you consume more of a good, its marginal utility falls. So the first slice of pizza is better than the second, the second better than the third and so on.

If, as the article suggests, people with lower incomes don't have the variety of activities and experiences that higher income people have, they will keep getting less and less utility (happiness?) from doing the same thing over again like just sitting at home and watching TV.

If the higher income people are often changing activities so they don't do any one thing alot, every activity has a higher utility and does not get the chance to diminish. Also, some studies (see related posts below) suggest that experiences lead to more happiness than buying things (although not everyone agrees).


"Research from the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science offers insight into the long-contended claim that money improves life satisfaction. The researchers found consistent evidence that income affects the frequency with which a person experiences happiness, but not the intensity.

The research team, led by Jon M. Jachimowicz, proposed that the link between income and happiness can be explained by the way people tend to spend their free time. People with lower incomes tend to spend more time engaging in passive leisure activities, such as TV watching and relaxing, and less time partaking in active leisure activities like socializing and practicing hobbies.

Passive activities should contribute to less happiness over time due to a phenomenon called hedonic adaptation — the tendency to become accustomed to a positive event and quickly return to a baseline level of happiness. By contrast, active leisure activities that are habitual and intentional, such as exercising, should produce less intense but more frequent bouts of happiness that add up to encourage psychological well-being. Jachimowicz and his team therefore proposed that income should be positively correlated with happiness frequency but not happiness intensity."

"income was related to greater life satisfaction through increased happiness frequency."

Related posts:

What Brings More Happiness, More Time Or More Money? (this study found that people that chose more free time over more money tended to be happier)

Does Wealth Make Us Happier? (maybe wealth buys freedom that makes us happier)

Another interesting article is The pursuit of happiness: Author seeks to take its measure and find where people are most content. It quotes former University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He said "Without dreams, without risks, only a trivial semblance of living can be achieved."

Does Or Can Money Buy Happiness?

Interesting Book: Stumbling on Happiness

Does Money Make You Mean?

Money buys happiness after all

The happiness wars

Dagwood Bumpstead Explains The Hedonic Treadmill 

Do income and happiness tend to go together? Yes, both within and across countries

Science proves it: Money really can buy happiness .

More On The Economics Of Gift Giving.

Does Money Buy Happiness?

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