QUALITY OF LIFE
       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
your happiness.
 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.

Notes

1. See their article for other findings.

References

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.
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