It’s true, everyone: Money makes the world go round. But are we receiving joy along with our weekly paycheck? While it may seem like it, researchers have determined that ultimately, there is no correlation between income and happiness. However, making the big bucks does have its affects. 


It can actually be a completely subconscious reaction. Money has powerful emotional influences, especially empathetically and compassionately. Those of a lower economic status are generally more aware of the well-being of others, while the wealthy are unable to identify with someone else’s emotions, leading to a disconnect with how those of a differing status lead their lives.


This detachment leads to the perception that those of a higher economic status are distrustful and cause more social harm. University of Pennsylvania research found that when participants were asked to evaluate various companies (some real, some hypothetical), those thought to have higher profits were associated with greater immorality and wrong-doing, regardless of the company’s actions in real life.


Money alone is not responsible for a drop in good conduct; however, wealth has been linked with a higher susceptibility to addictive behaviors such as eating disorders, excessive drinking, and drug use. The pursuit of wealth in and of itself can become a compulsive behavior: an obsessive need to obtain money is often the result of a change in brain chemistry that is reminiscent of the mood-altering effects of drugs and alcohol. An addiction to money can trigger the release of chemicals, such as dopamine, that actually produce a “high.” Therefore, people associate making money with feeling good, despite the fact that this chemical release is not an actual realization of bliss.


After reaching an average level of income that allows people to live comfortably, it has been found that wealth makes hardly any impact on overall well-being. The never-ending strive to be affluent, not the money itself, is the reason behind our discontentment. So next time you’re looking for a mood booster, leave your wallet at home: true happiness won’t be found through the swipe of an AmEx.


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