Can money buy you happiness? Maybe not, but a new study suggests it’s linked to greater feelings of confidence and pride.
Researchers analyzed five past studies that included a survey of more than 1.6 million people in 162 countries.
They found that higher income predicted whether people felt good about themselves, including feelings of confidence, pride and determination. The studies didn’t find a consistent link between income level and people’s feelings toward others, including love, anger and compassion.
“Having more money doesn’t necessarily make a person more compassionate and grateful, and greater wealth may not contribute to building a more caring and tolerant society,” said lead researcher Eddie Tong, an associate professor of psychology at the National University of Singapore.
But lower income predicted negative feelings toward oneself, including sadness, fear and shame. The findings were similar in both high-income countries and developing nations, according to the findings published online March 4 by the American Psychological Association in the journal Emotion.
“The effects of income on our emotional well-being should not be underestimated,” Tong said in a journal news release. “Having more money can inspire confidence and determination while earning less is associated with gloom and anxiety.”
In an analysis of a long-term survey, which included more than 4,000 U.S. participants, the researchers found that higher income predicted greater self-regard 10 years after the initial survey, while low income predicted more negative feelings.
“Policies aimed at raising the income of the average person and boosting the economy may contribute to emotional well-being for individuals,” Tong said. “However, it may not necessarily contribute to emotional experiences that are important for communal harmony.”
The study doesn’t prove higher income causes these emotions — only that there is a link between them.
The Pew Research Center has more information on income and wealth inequality.
SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, March 4, 2021