Rising income along with optimism increase average person’s happiness; Research

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Researchers have found that high level of individual income and wealth along with good amount of optimism results in more of the average person’s happiness.

This research has been published online in the journal Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

This research is based on responses of 806,526 people in 135 countries from 2005 to 2011 while collecting data from the first Gallup World Poll taking responses by telephone and door-to-door visits. This research showed that gross domestic product per capita of a country has very little impact on the average person’s happiness as compared to the personal income and optimism.

“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,” Happiness expert and psychologist Edward Diener, PhD, of the University of Illinois, who led the study, said in a statement.

Researchers have found that increases in incomes result in more positive feelings and better life evaluations.

This research brings “Easterlin Paradox” into survival according to which increase in happiness is not related to economic growth of nations.

“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.”


Diener, E., Tay, L., & Oishi, S. (2012). Rising Income and the Subjective Well-Being of Nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology DOI: 10.1037/a0030487


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