Thursday, June 7, 2007

Money buying happiness

Does money really buy happiness? This is a mixed debate for this question so I went to http://www.janechin.com/?p=148 . It lead me to a blog called Money Happiness (And More of It). The opinion that the author Jane Chin had was almost the same as everyone who thinks money can buy happiness. Something that she did different was use the physical aspect rather than the emotional aspect. Our opinions are different because I don’t believe that money can buy happiness. I would be naive to say that money doesn’t help one state of being, but I know it can’t make someone 100% happy.

In this blog Jane Chin is responding to another blog by Sarah Needleman called “Will earning more make you happier?” that can be found on CareerJournal.com. At first she declares yes that money could make you happier depending on how you define happy. First she talks about her study of the income ranges in this web log from 20,000 to 90,000 dollars. From her personal experience when she was making 20,000 dollars she was still in graduate school. Then after graduate school she got up into the 90,000 dollar range. Chen said that she was relatively happier when making more money. She also stated that life in this money range wasn’t a walk in the park as she stated that there was more stress because she wasn’t quite satisfied with her career. Her stress went as far as to triggering episodes of depression. Going deeper into her blog she states that it is an illusion that high income is associated with good mood. Daniel Kahneman, a professor who studied how amounts of money affected people, studied the belief of money buying happiness. He stated and Chin confirmed that when pay raises increase that it only had a temporary effect on how it satisfies a person. Then happiness was drawn into three categories: not too happy, pretty happy, and very happy. The data collected from this study was that people who made more money were happier. Also she mentions that we measure happiness to our peers. In the end she tells us that happiness is ultimately what we define it.

Jane Chin is in titled to an opinion. She states that she been in every price range throughout her life so she knows what is going on. Since she lived in all price ranges, she knows how money affected her. With that she can assume how money affects everyone else. Chin uses facts and study results that she got from Daniel Kahneman’s research. She saw that how she felt was the same as how they felt when they were in that price range.

This blog had a lot of things that I didn’t like. First she said money would make you happy depending on how you define happy. Then she said that she wasn’t as happy when she got paid. Chin was going against her word by saying one thing and then saying the exact opposite later in the paper. I think that the worst part of this blog that she didn’t bring out the emotional part as much as it should have been. Money can’t make some happy like she said. Or like she kind of said since she had two different answers in one blog on one question. The study that she used from Daniel Kahneman sticks out by using money values to determine happiness. Any self respecting person knows money contributes to happiness. It can’t buy happiness, and by putting a money value on it takes away from how much I should consider it. Her stand point was from some one who is working and thinking about what is going to make her happy. So in saying that she said in the blog she is using the working persons prospective. In not looking at the big picture of the question money buying happiness Chin basically saying that the materialistic part is the only part people need to be happy.

In the end I believe that Jane Chin does write too much about the materialistic part of happiness. She talks about if a person who drives a Porsche is happier than a person who drives a Pontiac. There is little touch with the emotions of a human being. I do believe that a person who has money is happier than a person who is broke. I just don’t think that a person who just has money and nothing else will be a person in good shape. It is much more than that to the point that we may never understand what will make us happy. Even if we do find out what it is we may never achieve it.

1 comment:

Jane Chin, Ph.D. said...

You may have misinterpreted my article.

I stress repeatedly that money can 'buy' happiness if your happiness depends on material things. Even then, this is still an illusion because there is a relativistic measure of satisfaction based on peer performance. This does not mean that I advocate materialism, and in fact, my example of driving a Porsche vs. driving a Pontiac illustrates an aspect of my caution against materialism. For the record, I drive a Pontiac (not a Porsche, as I have no desire to get one) and commented that I planned to keep driving the car I own for at least another 10 years (as opposed to upgrading for a newer, bigger car every 3 years as more people are doing).

Obviously, I wouldn't have gotten depressed when I was making six figure salaries if I believed that money = happiness. Thus I was implying that money satisfies only a base level of the "needs hierarchy" but does not satisfy other factors that transcend many physical needs that may require money in today's society to fulfill (i.e. food, shelter, adequate health).

We probably have more similar opinions about the role of money in happiness than your interpretation of my article is concluding.