Money really can’t buy happiness, research shows. Instead, a new study suggests, those pursuing a happier life would be smart to sharpen their social skills.
In a series of four experiments, researchers found that it is the level of respect and admiration we receive from peers—not overall wealth or success—that more likely predicts happiness. They refer to this level of respect and admiration as our “sociometric status,” as opposed to socioeconomic status (SES).
In one experiment, 80 college students from 14 different student groups rated how much they respected and admired the other people in their group, and how respected and admired they felt themselves; they also answered questions about their family’s income and their own level of happiness.
The results, published in the journal Psychological Science, show that people with higher sociometric status reported greater happiness, whereas their socioeconomic status was not linked to their happiness…
…“You don’t have to be rich to be happy, but instead be a valuable contributing member to your groups,” says Anderson. “What makes a person high in status in a group is being engaged, generous with others, and making self sacrifices for the greater good.”