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| Can Money Buy Happiness?: Are Lottery Winners
Any Happier in the Long Run?
We may see lottery winners as quite ecstatic on television. However, we may not see how happy they are at a later time. Can money buy happiness? Would they still be as happy as they were when they first learned the news? Could they adapt to their new situation and return to the same level of happiness they had before winning the lottery?
Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman (1978) asked lottery winners, accident victims who were paralyzed, and a control group about their happiness. All of the lottery winners in the study had won 50,000 dollars or more. Seven of the 22 lottery winners in the study had won 1 million dollars. There was no statistically significant difference between the lottery winners and the control group with respect to how happy they were at this stage of their lives. Moreover, the difference between the lottery winners and the control group with respect to how happy thought they would be in a couple of years was not statistically significant. It is interesting that the lottery winners did not judge how happy they would be in a couple of years as higher than the accident victims! (1)
The findings are consistent with the idea that the relation between money and happiness is not linear. Increases in the amount of money you have may not, in some situations (e.g., winning the lottery), increase
These findings may also suggest that happiness may be relative. We may not be able to reach a higher level of happiness as a result of winning the lottery. Winning the lottery may simply raise our standards.
1. See their article for othe findings.
Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery
winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 917-927.