Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Financial Security, More Than Money Alone, May Be Key To Happiness, Study Says

Date:
March 23, 2009
Source:
Princeton University
Summary:
A study of the mental state of the modern American woman has found a powerful link between concerns over financial security and satisfaction with one's life. In looking toward the future, women who concentrated much of their thinking on financial matters were much less likely to be happy with their lives, according to the study.

A study of the mental state of the modern American woman by a Princeton University psychologist has found a powerful link between concerns over financial security and satisfaction with one's life.

In looking toward the future, women who concentrated much of their thinking on financial matters were much less likely to be happy with their lives, according to Talya Miron-Shatz, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. And, contrary to expectations, many of those with such worries had plenty of money by conventional standards, she said, suggesting that there is more at play in obtaining peace of mind than simply having cash.

"Even if you are making a hundred grand a year, if you are constantly worried that you are going to get fired, that you are going to lose your health insurance or that you are simply not sure you are going to 'make it,' you are not going to be happy," Miron-Shatz said. Such concerns, she found, affected a wide variety of women at all income levels.

Conversely, those who didn't fixate on finances like retirement savings, tuition for college or simply making ends meet, reported being the happiest of the group.

The study was published Feb. 25 in Judgment and Decision Making, a scholarly journal. Miron-Shatz is hoping the results might guide policy decisions, especially those being devised by President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress in the wake of today's financial crisis. Her work would favor a focus on strategies that create social and financial "safety nets" over measures that would directly increase income.

To understand how income and concerns over financial security may relate to a person's satisfaction with life, Miron-Shatz conducted two separate studies of a representative sample of nearly 1,000 American women of various ages and incomes. In one study, she showed that considerations of financial security were as important to the study subjects as their monetary assets.

She asked subjects in the second study to think about the future in an open-ended manner. Those who did so and mentioned financial concerns -- retirement, college tuition, making ends meet, etc. -- were less satisfied with their lives, she found, than those who did not raise such concerns. One of her participants said that when thinking of her future she wondered, "Will I be happy and financially stable?" The stability, Miron-Shatz says, is crucial. "It's not about greed," she added. "It's about knowing whatever it is you have, be it your McMansion or your motor home, won't be taken away from you."

Discussions about wealth need to be expanded to include this notion of financial security, she said, and though valid and meaningful, this factor is "glaringly missing from economic discussions," she said in her paper's introduction.

Psychologists have long sought to understand the connection between money and happiness.

Though the popular conception has been that "money can't buy happiness," studies have shown that wealth can play a role in enhancing happiness. Yet, wealth itself has been poorly defined in studies. And, contributing to this complicated relationship is what Princeton Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman has called the "satisfaction treadmill." In pioneering studies of human happiness, Kahneman, the Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Psychology, has found that satisfaction does not necessarily increase in a corresponding amount with an improved financial status.

Miron-Shatz is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Kahneman, a psychologist who has pioneered the integration of research about decision-making into economics and won the 2002 Nobel Prize in economic sciences. Miron-Shatz's paper grew out of her work with Kahneman, who is her adviser.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Princeton University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Miron-Shatz, T. "Am I going to be happy and financially stable?": How American women feel when they think about financial security. Judgment and Decision Making, 2009; 4 (1): 102-112

Cite This Page:

Princeton University. "Financial Security, More Than Money Alone, May Be Key To Happiness, Study Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317125228.htm>.
Princeton University. (2009, March 23). Financial Security, More Than Money Alone, May Be Key To Happiness, Study Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317125228.htm
Princeton University. "Financial Security, More Than Money Alone, May Be Key To Happiness, Study Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317125228.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program

NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program

AP (Apr. 15, 2014) The New York City Police Department has ended a program that once kept tabs on the city's muslim population. (April 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins