Is life sadder or happier?

Psychology: Money doesn't make you happy - it makes you less sad

Money! A lot of money is needed, nobody would mind that - would they? Money makes you free and carefree, so you think, money makes life easy and fun. Money and luck, in many minds the two go together perfectly.

Too bad that psychological research has to come back and destroy any illusion. Because money, as several studies show, makes you a little happier in the long term because it conveys security, but it doesn't make you wake up happy every day.

Maybe, so recently thought Canadian psychologists working with Kostadin Kushlev from the University of British Columbia, maybe money doesn't make you happy, but at least makes you less sad? After all, the “coal” has to be good for something.

As they now report in the journal “Social Psychological and Personality Science”, they were actually able to confirm this assumption on a data set of more than 12,000 test persons.

They measured their annual household income on a scale from 1 (less than $ 5,000) to 16 (more than $ 150,000) and recorded feelings of happiness or sadness on a randomly selected day.

Half of the participants had to describe a weekday, the other half a Saturday or Sunday. The researchers also recorded other factors that can influence happiness and unhappiness, such as stress, pain or fatigue.

The result: a lot of money and a feeling of happiness every day, there was no measurable connection whatsoever. But with the daily feeling of sadness there was one. It wasn't huge, but it was there - about on the same scale as the well-known relationship between a lot of money and greater long-term satisfaction.

Not two sides of the same coin

The fact that a lot of “coal” doesn't make you happy, but less sad, sounds kind of funny, but it has serious reasons. Because happiness and sadness are not two sides of the same coin. The absence of one feeling is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the other.

So if you are not sad you are not automatically happy, and vice versa. The scientists explain that money only influences one of the two feelings: "Those who are wealthy may more likely have the feeling of getting a grip on difficult situations than those who are less wealthy," the researchers write.

If you discover a hole in the roof, for example, it is annoying for someone with a lot of money, but it can be fixed quickly. For someone with little money, however, such a problem could result in months of torture - with consequences for their own well-being.

“The advantage of a high income”, according to the authors, “lies more in cushioning negative feelings than in conjuring up positive ones."