For people living in both rich and poor countries, the average person's happiness is based on a combination of individual wealth, possessions and optimism, according to an analysis of new worldwide survey findings published by the American Psychological Association.
A country's gross domestic product per capita did not have as much of an impact on the average person's happiness, according to research based on responses of 806,526 people in 135 countries from 2005 to 2011. Happiness expert and psychologist Edward Diener, PhD, of the University of Illinois, led the study, which is published in APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
"We've found that rising income does lead to rising happiness, but it depends on people being optimistic, not having sky-high desires, and the average person being actually able to afford more things. So income is helpful, but only in certain circumstances," said Diener.
Some of the main findings were:
Increases in household income were associated with improved life evaluations and more positive feelings.
GDP per capita was less related to respondents' feelings of personal well-being than rising personal income.
Increased wealth was primarily linked to improvements in well-being if people were able to purchase more material things, such as a television and access to the Internet, in addition to being more optimistic and satisfied with their finances.
Researchers gathered data from the first Gallup World Poll, which conducted surveys by telephone and door-to-door visits. Respondents rated their lives on a scale from zero (worst possible life) to 10 (best possible life) and answered questions about positive or negative emotions experienced the previous day. The researchers looked at each country's gross domestic product per capita, obtained from the International Monetary Fund, and each respondent's household income.
To measure the participants' level of material possessions, the survey asked if they had enough money for food, whether they had enough money for shelter, if they owned a television set and if their household had an Internet connection. It also asked about their optimism for the future and their satisfaction with their current standard of living.
This new research helps bring clarification to the "Easterlin Paradox," a concept introduced in 1974 that suggested the economic growth of nations does not lead to more happiness, according to Diener.
"According to the 'Easterlin Paradox,' rich individuals are happier than poor ones but rising incomes do not seem to be associated with an increase in happiness," he said. "Our research contradicts this concept by finding that rising income will only have an effect if aspirations or desires do not rise even more quickly. If people make more money, they can be happier. But if they are constantly disappointed because they expected to make even more money, then rising income might not help."
Article: "Rising Income and the Subjective Well-Being of Nations," Ed Diener, PhD, University of Illinois and The Gallup Organization; Louis Tay, PhD, Purdue University; and Shige Oishi, PhD, University of Virginia; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, online Oct. 29, 2012.
Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-ofp-diener.pdf
Contact: Ed Diener at firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.
If you do not want to receive APA news releases, please let us know at email@example.com or 202-336-5700.
Audrey Hamilton | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.apa.org
More articles from Studies and Analyses:
Group of anti-diabetic drugs can significantly lower cancer risk in women with type 2 diabetes
06.12.2013 | Cleveland Clinic
Could a Vaccine Help Ward off MS?
06.12.2013 | American Academy of Neurology
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
A genetic defect protects mice from infection with influenza viruses
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen and ...
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
06.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News