Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Lottery winners do not want their winnings to change them

There are many notions about what happens when someone has won a big prize. We often hear about winners who have spent all their money, incurred debts and become lonely and unhappy.

But these are exceptional cases, a research at the University of Gothenburg shows. In the vast majority of cases the winners claim to carry on living their normal lives with prudent consumption.

“It's common for people to say that ‘they are who they are’ as an explanation for why they do not change more,” says Anna Hedenus, who has studied Swedish lottery winners in her thesis.

The story of the unfortunate winner who has given up his or her job and squandered all the money reflects both ideas about people’s inordinate desire to consume and the thought that work is something we do purely because we have to. These notions are put to the test by studying how people who receive a sudden financial boost choose to use their money.

In a survey to which 420 Swedish lottery winners responded and in interviews with 14 winners, Hedenus has asked questions about the winners’ attitudes to work and leisure before and after the win, and about consumption and identity. The choices the lottery winners make contribute to an understanding of how people value these different facets of life.

“Some people emphasise that two million Swedish kronor is not really that much money, and that it is not enough to cover for one's living expenses for a longer period of time. But at the same time there is a setting of priorities in that assertion. Most of them prefer to save the money as security for the future rather than dramatically changing their lives during a shorter period,” says Hedenus.

The thesis focuses in particular on the winners’ attitude to work after the win. The results show that only a minority of the winners have used their prize money to devote less time to work. The size of the prize is however significant in this respect. The higher the wins, the more people have, worked shorter hours or taken periods of leave. Continuing to work in the same way as before the win can be accounted for with the winners’ need for social contact, structuring of time and everyday routines, or to the fact that they feel satisfied with their jobs and that work is part of their identities. The study also confirms the picture of a societal standard governing work, where the choice of continuing to work is regarded as natural.

With regard to consumption, the winners are walking a tightrope. On the one hand they aim to fulfil the expectations of being active consumers in a consumer society. On the other hand they are coloured by the ideal of thrift and by worries about spending their money on the “wrong” things or about their money running out. Nor do they want to use their money in such a way that it affects their social lives or makes it appear as though they themselves have changed. The winners’ previous lifestyles and social environment therefore become important factors in deciding how they live their lives after their win.

Despite their cautious spending behaviours, the winners experience many positive consequences from their wins. In addition to experiencing happiness and gratitude, the money gives them an increased sense of security, freedom and independence.

Contact: Anna Hedenus, tel: +46 (0)31 786 4784, e-mail:

Bibliographic data
Journal: Sociology 45 (1): 22-37
Authors: Anna Hedenus
Title: Finding Prosperity as a Lottery Winner: Presentations of Self after Acquisition of Sudden Wealth

DOI: 10.1177/0038038510387197

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>