Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New research says being top dog makes us happier than simply getting top dollar


New research by a group of economists and psychology researchers at the University of Warwick reveals that our rank position within an organisation has a bigger effect on our happiness within that job than the happiness generated by our actual level of pay. In short being top dog makes us happier than simply getting top dollar.

The researchers, University of Warwick Economists Professor Andrew Oswald and Dr Jonathan.Gardner (Joanthan now with Watson Wyatt) and University of Warwick psychology researchers Professor Gordon . Brown and Jing Qian studied data from 16,266 individuals from 886 separate actual workplaces, and also carried out two further psychological experiments. They presented their findings recently to a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The results from the analysis of happiness, pay and rank data from the 16,266 individuals found that the level of actual pay, or the average level of pay in an organisation, had very little effect on how happy people were with the level of respect they had within that organisation. It also had little effect on how happy people were with their achievements within that organisation."

However when one looked at people’s overall rank position the researchers found that did produce a significant impact on both how happy people were with the level of respect they had within that organisation and how happy people were with their achievements. When asked to rank how happy they were with their pay the researchers found that rank within an organisation had 50%-60% more effect on that level of happiness than the actual amount that people were paid!

In the first of the psychological experiments the research team asked a group of students to rank their satisfaction with a level of pay if it was offered to them as a starting graduate salary. The students were shown the same level of starting salaries but in a range of tables so, for instance, some saw a salary of £19.5K positioned as the fifth lowest wage in table whereas others saw that salary in a table as the second lowest. The experiment subjects clearly demonstrated that even if actual pay levels for everyone were exactly the same placing them in different rank orders created different levels of happiness.

In a second experiment students heard tones from a range of nine musical tones and were asked to judge were each tone came in that range. They were given a small cash reward for each tone judgement and then also asked to say how happy they were with that reward (of which they could actually keep a small percentage of at the end of the experiment). However the students were presented with different award distributions- a high-reward one in which they were rewarded with a number of pounds and a low distribution in which the same numbers were used but presented as pennies. The researchers found a clear negative correlation between current satisfaction rating and preceding reward values. The results indicated that reward satisfaction ratings were determined partly by comparison with other, recently-presented, rewards. A given level of reward produces a higher satisfaction rating if lower rewards have been received and rated in the recent past

For further information contact:
Professor Andrew Oswald 024 76 523510
University of Warwick

Andrew Oswald | University of Warwick
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>