Friday, March 19, 2010

It's All Just A Coincidence...Right?

For instance, take this article about a study released by the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick.

One key to happiness might be whether you make more than your peers, regardless of whether that income is six figures or just a mediocre take-home, a new study finds.

This concept of "doing better than the Joneses" is well established among children: A toy gets ditched as soon as a shinier toy in the hands of another child is spotted. But some researchers have often thought that when it comes to adults and money, things works differently, in that the more money one has, regardless of how it stacks up, the more resources can be acquired to generate happiness.

However, the new study suggests income and happiness are indeed like child's play.

We tend to be happy "as long as we've got more than the people around us," said study researcher Christopher Boyce in the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick in England. "You might buy a new car. But if your neighbor has just bought the very same car, that new car doesn't seem as good as it once was if you were the only one to have that car."

Past research has suggested that income rank, not just absolute income, is important, but previous large-scale studies looked only at satisfaction with economic conditions rather than overall life satisfaction, the researchers say.

Boyce and his colleagues used data collected between 1997 and 2004 in the British Household Panel Survey, in which more than 80,000 participants rated how dissatisfied or satisfied they were with their life overall. Household incomes were adjusted for regional differences in living costs and for number of individuals in a household. The resulting figure represented the amount of spending power a person would have.

Then, they took the ranked position of each person's income within the entire sample in a given year and compared it with the individual's absolute income. Statistical tests were run to determine how that rank predicated a person's life satisfaction. While a person's life satisfaction went up with higher absolute pay, when ranked income was taken into account, the absolute numbers were no longer linked to happiness levels.

Then the researchers grouped participants and compared their income with various reference groups, including geographical region, gender and education, and age, as people might do in real life. In each case, incomes were ranked relative to that particular reference group. Again, a person's life satisfaction was mostly explained by income rank within each peer group.

They also found that people are 1.75 times more likely to compare themselves to those above them in income than to those below.

That makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, because it would behoove someone to gather information about the higher-ups in order to improve oneself to ultimately get there, Boyce explained. "But that results in low satisfaction with your current standing," he added.

There, now everyone can feel much better after our collective reaming by Wall Street. Why? Because we're all greedy bastards who equate happiness with having more shit. Wall Streeters really aren't any different than Main Streeters. So now we can put away our pitchforks & our guillotines & our protest signs, because if we were in their place we'd do the same thing.


Since the article piqued my interest, I went to the University of Warwick's website to read it for myself. Alas, I couldn't find it, but my attention was distracted by the hyperlink on their main research page that led to a podcast about "false memories."
Wow, what a coincidence, eh?

It's nice to know that the folk who are explaining how greedy we are, are also explaining how we make up memories all the time.
Personally, I think the entire bailout was a false memory.


We're not bankrupt
capitalism hasn't sunk our red, white & blue Titanic.


Never happened.

I don't know about you, but I feel much better now.


Belliosto said...

Hello Dick.

That's why so many people receive 20 to 30 year mortgage loan packages. Do the women worry that their women friends and family will feel sorry for them if they do not have a really nice house? We must buy this house Rochester, they will not have any reason to sympathize.

THIS is our home. The one that we cannot afford. I want to borrow other people's money to be happy here. I don't care about paying the money back with interest for the next 25 years. I WANT this one! FINAL ANSWER. TRIPLE STAMP.

Everything's fine ladies and gents, we're making our payments. And don't talk to me about the bank owning this house. You shut your mouth when you're talking to me. I'll have your sissy bum's ass on a stick. Then of course one gets hit over the head with a rolling pin by her.

Then of course the nurturing hearts are keeping this country going.

I truly feel sorry for you since you must perform spiritual fellatio on the CEO's shafts in the hierarchical corporate pyramids. Like blowing them has kept Americans employed. More like unemployed. Over expansionism certainly has a most profitable side effect on us. Feeling sorry? I don't think so. More like feeling left out. More like "sob" my husband cannot suck CEO cock anymore. We may not make it.

Yeah Dick, rank has everything to do with how most women choose their greedy husbands.

In Belliosto Terkel's book, I'm Proud To Milk People of Their Money is an excerpt from one chapter.

Look at my husband. He is the minister. He stands in front of the congregation and the flock listen to him. I would never settle for another man in the flock unless he had a lot of money. We have a beautiful house and our business contacts and donations keep us more than happy, thank you. I would defend my husband's faith better than any trial lawyer in the country. My husband pays the bills.

Thank you Mrs. Nightingale. I'm sure to make a donation soon.

This is my church. This is my husband. This is my beautiful home. This is my wonderful neighborhood. This is my sanctified, God-given, self-interested, pompous, non-caring, stuck-on-myself, glorified, and God-fearing pride you're writing about Belliosto. You better watch what you write. I'll see to it that you never have a women friend for the rest of your life. Take that.

Hmmm. Who was that woman?

Take care, Dick. I'm getting back to the books.

just_another_dick said...

Mr. B., I had occasion to ponder your assignment whenever my co-workers were watching televised coverage of the Tiger Woods affair.
Oodles of faux moralizing about ol' Tiger's penchant for sticking his wiener in a non-socially acceptable wiener hole.
Yet, nary a mention of all those dead Iraqis.
Murdered because of a lie.
Or, more precisely, a bad lie uncritically accepted by a willfully ignorant electorate.
I think we've finally acquiesced to the unreal.

& take some advice Mr. B., don't stereotype.
Relationships aren't easy to maintain under the best of circumstances. I work with women who are married, work full time, & their hubbies still expect them to cook & clean & do the damn laundry. & what amazes me the most is that these broads actually do it.
If my wife selfishly expected me to shoulder all the chores, the marriage would sink like a big fucking rock.

I've no doubt there are oodles of women obsessed with nothing but status & rank, but I also think the status slots have been disappearing at a pretty good pace for quite a while now. The folk with "real status" are closing ranks and I assume that most women will find entry into that world amazingly limited.

Of course, if they're attractive, they'll always have their vaginas.
That works for a bit.
In the end though, they'll be discarded like so much cheap trash.

Just like the rest of us.
Beggars at a table we helped build.
Good little slaves till the end.

Anonymous said...

It can be difficult to accept this kind of top down corporate mentality that may be favored by most of us. This shadow that hovers over pathetic me. A single dust speck on the planet.

I actually believe that the sympathy that comes from nurturing hearts focused on our economic situation may be playfully annoying. But I know enough women who have been hit hard by these trying times. Also women who had difficult times back 10, 20 years ago. I'm sure there are many more women than I realize who are suffering from economic hardships. Not to mention difficult relationships with their men.

Real status is limited for certain. I guess a point I am trying to convey is: Who cares about status? A woman is better than that. But a woman is more competent than I am when she explains that this is so. When she communicates that friendships are more cherished than wealth.

I think many abused women refuse to admit that it is the status-seeking that they naturally feel comfortable with that has got them into trouble. Not much talk about the error of settling for status and/or wealth. Much more talk about how faithful they are with their men who hurt them. These women are a living testament that rank is the very thing that has ruined their relationships. Or their natural desire for rank/status has harmed their potential for a functional relationship with the opposite sex.

I did stereotype women in my last post. I totally affirm this. I stretched out the aspect of status-seeking by common women. I also admit that I have very little to do with status-seeking myself and I do my best to treat the women in my life as appreciated human beings. The few always ruin it for the many. Sometimes I can be the few. That is not good.

I just read the short story "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant. I believe that the woman in the story matured and changed for the better. She became content with her situation. Her husband did his best to satisfy her in a genuine way. I see the necklace given back to her as well. A happy ending.

Belliosto said...

Belliosto posted the above.