Monday, November 19, 2012

Respect Counts More Than Money

Happiness in life may be related more to how much you are respected than how much money you have.

An article published in June in Psychological Science reports that in a series of four studies they tested the hypothesis that higher sociometric status might make a difference in overall happiness.  Sociometric status might be defined as respect and admiration in face-to-face groups such as among friends, in the neighborhood, or on an athletic team.

“We got interested in this idea because there is abundant evidence that higher socioeconomic status—higher income or wealth, higher education—does not boost subjective well-being (or happiness) much at all. Yet at the same time, many theories suggest that higher status should boost happiness,” said psychological scientist Cameron Anderson of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

“Having high standing in your local ladder leads to receiving more respect, having more influence, and being more integrated into the group’s social fabric,” said Anderson.

One possible explanation for the results is that people adapt. “One of the reasons why money doesn’t buy happiness is that people quickly adapt to the new level of income or wealth. Lottery winners, for example, are initially happy but then return to their original level of happiness quickly,” said Anderson.

Adaptation of this sort may not occur with local status. “It’s possible that being respected, having influence, and being socially integrated just never gets old,” Anderson said.

For more details visit and use the search word “respect.” 

This article was originally published in Pathways Physician & Health Professional Bulletin - Issue 25.  To download this issue in PDF format, or past issues, visit our newsletter archives online at

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