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Money can't buy you love. Worshipping Mammon foments evil ways. Materialists are shallow and unhappy. The greenback finds itself in tough times these days. Whether it’s Wall Street bankers earning lavish multi-million-dollar bonuses or two-bit city managers in Los Angeles County bringing in higher salaries than President Obama the recessionary economic climate has helped spur outrage and revulsion at those of us collecting undeserved lucre.
Wealthy people have a bad rep. Sure, there are philanthropists like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, who have given billions of their net worth away and have made the world a better, healthier, safer place. But, sadly, they are an exception. American families who make over $300,000 a year donate to charity a mere 4 percent of their incomes. The statistic should not be surprising, as studies by University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs and her collaborators have shown that merely glimpsing dollar bills makes people less generous and approachable, and more egocentric.
Now come a new set of studies that reveal yet another toll that money takes. An international team of researchers led by Jordi Quoidbach report in the August 2010 issue of Psychological Science that, although wealth may grant us opportunities to purchase many things, it simultaneously impairs our ability to enjoy those things.
Their first study, conducted with adult employees of the University of Liège in Belgium showed that the wealthier the workers were, the less likely they were to display a strong capacity to savor positive experiences in their lives. Furthermore, simply being reminded of money (by being exposed to a picture of a huge stack of Euros) dampened their savoring ability.
Quoidbach and his colleagues’ second study was even cleverer. Participants aged 16 to 59 recruited on the University of British Columbia campus were entrusted with the not unpleasant task of tasting a piece of chocolate. Before accepting the chocolate, however, they were obliged to complete a brief questionnaire. For half of the participants, this questionnaire furtively included a page with a picture of Canadian money (allegedly for an unrelated experiment), and for the other half, it included a neutral picture.
Although the ostensibly irrelevant photo was unlikely to have elicited more than a cursory glance, it had a pronounced effect on the volunteers’ behavior. Those “primed,” or subconsciously reminded, of money ended up spending less time consuming the chocolate and were rated by observers as enjoying it less.
How to explain these results? The researchers argue that because wealth allows people to experience the best that life has to offer, it ultimately undermines their ability to savor life’s little pleasures. Once we’ve had the opportunity to drink the finest French wines, fly in a private jet, eat foie gras with edible gold leaf, and watch the Super Bowl from a box seat, coffee at Starbucks with a friend, a sunny day after a week of rain, or an unexpected Reese’s peanut butter cup on our desks just doesn't provide the same jolt of happiness it used to. Indeed, a landmark study of lottery winners showed just that: People who had won between $50,000 and $1,000,000 (in 1970s dollars) were less impressed by life’s simple pleasures than people who experienced no such windfall.
In coffee shops, on commuter trains and over breakfasts of high-fructose corn syrup crunch, millions of people have no doubt pointed to the Martha Stewart headlines the past few days and made some snarky remark like, "See? That shows you that money can't buy happiness."
Certainly Stewart is not happy now that she's been convicted. Last week, when former WorldCom honcho Bernie Ebbers did the perp walk, he didn't look too happy, either. The Enron guys? Same story. Got rich. Not happy.
All might have avoided their fates had they paid more attention to science. There has been an explosion in happiness research lately. The field even has its own peer-reviewed publication called Journal of Happiness Studies, with articles such as "Personality, Psychosocial Variables, and Life Satisfaction of Chinese Gay Men in Hong Kong." (In case you were wondering, they're modestly satisfied with their lives.)
Anyway, the preponderance of scientific research — which runs from studies of the brain to statistical analysis — suggests that money cannot, in fact, buy happiness.
Most people associate happiness with objects or ownership of things.for instance i bet a lot of u will be happy if u got the ps3 or the xbox 360,some of u will be happy if u get a foreign vacation or if u got a magnificient new mansion which had everything u desired.These things can only be bought buy money and power ,therefore u would think that your happiness is dependant on money.But these objects of desire do not give lasting happiness.Sooner or later we get bored of these things and we look forward for the next thing that would give us happiness.This can continue endlessly and take over your life and when we dont get these objects of we become unhappy and dejected,so ironically pursuit of happiness results in unhappiness.Therefore money can not buy happiness