Although theories suggest high-income individuals are generally happier, new research finds that feeling valued may matter more for well-being.
Aretha had it right: Respect really matters. According to a new study, feeling one is respected and admired ranks over having money when it comes to what makes people feel a greater sense of happiness and well-being.
The researchers were interested in understanding why people with higher socioeconomic status (SES), who presumably had greater wealth or income and education, were not appreciably happier than those of lower SES. "Yet at the same time, many theories suggest that higher status should boost happiness," said lead researcher Cameron Anderson, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, in a press release. "So if higher socioeconomic status doesn't equate with a greater sense of well-being, then what does?"
Even for MBAs in the workforce, feeling respected and valued had more to do with their happiness than how much money they made.
- Your Mind Works Better When It's Happy
- Dealing With a Down Economy
- Sometimes a Little Stress Is All It Takes to Be Happy
Anderson and his colleagues decided to look at the effect of a person's sense of their position on the social ladder. How does the level of respect and admiration we receive from friends and neighbors, co-workers and teammates -- the people we see and interact with face-to-face every day -- affect our happiness? "Having high standing in your local ladder leads to receiving more respect, having more influence, and being more integrated into the group's social fabric," Anderson said.