Can money really buy you happiness?
Washington: It's an age-old question: Can money buy happiness? It's true to some extent, but chances are you're not getting the most bang for your buck.
A team of researchers at the universities of Stirling and Nottingham found that changes in income do not affect most people's happiness, most of the time.
The research, which examined levels of life satisfaction and income changes in more than 18,000 adults over a nine year period, revealed that income change is only important when individuals with specific personality characteristics experience an income loss.
The team found that for most people happiness is likely to rest on avoiding loss, rather than aiming for continual financial gain.
The study, involving two separate samples from Germany and the UK, asked participants annually about their income level and how satisfied they were with life. Participants also answered questions on their personality at the start of the study.
Lead researcher Christopher Boyce said that it is often assumed that as our income increases, so does our life satisfaction, however, we have discovered this is not the case. What really matters is when income is lost and this is only important for people who are highly conscientious.
Boyce noted that continually increasing our income is not an important factor for achieving greater happiness and well-being for most people living in economically developed countries. Instead, we should aim for financial stability to achieve greater happiness, while protecting those individuals who experience negative income shocks.
The study appears in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.