Money Can’t Buy Happiness: Individualism a Stronger Predictor of Well-Being Than Wealth, Says New Study
Freedom and personal autonomy are more important to people’s well-being than money, according to a meta-analysis of data from 63 countries published by the American Psychological Association. While a great deal of research has been devoted to the predictors of happiness and life satisfaction around the world, researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand wanted to know one thing: What is more important for well-being, providing people with money or providing them with choices and autonomy?
“Our findings provide new insights into well-being at the societal level,” they wrote in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by APA. “Providing individuals with more autonomy appears to be important for reducing negative psychological symptoms, relatively independent of wealth.”
Psychologists Ronald Fischer, PhD, and Diana Boer, PhD, looked at studies involving three different psychological tests — the General Health Questionnaire, which measures four symptoms of distress (somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction and severe depression); the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, which tests how respondents feel at a particular moment; and the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which tests for emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and lack of personal accomplishment. Altogether, they examined a sample of 420,599 people from 63 countries spanning nearly 40 years.