“Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. ” The desire to achieve material wealth has been plaguing most of the people today. Our society’s main focus has now been on getting richer, or being successful in order to have more income. The theory that material gain would lead to a person’s well being has been the object of various research and assumptions. And so now we ask: “Does Money Really Increase a Person’s Well Being? ” This term paper aims to shed light on the topic of money and well being as influenced by the state of unemployment among individuals.
Subjective Well Being First let us take a look at the term Well Being, or better yet Subjective Well Being (SWB). The term refers to an individual’s perception of his or her happiness. SWB is a phenomenon which takes a look at the individual’s emotional responses as well as their own judgments of life satisfaction per se. It is said that SWB is divided into two parts, namely, the affective part and the cognitive part. According to Van Hoorn (2007), the affective part is a hedonic evaluation guided by emotions and feelings, while the cognitive part is an
information-based appraisal of one’s life for which people judge the extent to which their life so far measures up to their expectations and resembles their envisioned ‘ideal’ life. (p. 1). It is good to know that ever since the SWB’s establishment, five decades ago, psychologists/social scientists have tested out a lot of studies that are focused on the factors which truly influence a person’s subjective well-being. How is SWB measured? We should first understand the methodology in SWB studies before discussing the other parts of the study.
SWB is measured by taking the answers of people who are normally asked whether they are very happy, quite happy, not very happy, or not at all happy. Kahneman and Krueger (2006) explains that: The questions most frequently asked in research using surveys of subjective well-being elicit reports of global life satisfaction or happiness. In the World Values Survey, for example, respondents in 81 countries are asked, “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days? ” The General Social Survey (GSS) similarly asks Americans, “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days?
Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy? ”(p. 6). People will have no problems answering these survey questions, but a few things should also be remembered. According to Frey and Stutzer, in their research entitled “Happiness Research,” People are reckoned to be the best judges of the overall quality of their lives, and it is a straightforward strategy to ask them about their well-being. With the help of one or more questions on global self reports, it is possible to get indications of individuals’ evaluations of their life satisfaction or happiness.
(p. 405). There is a challenge, however, in asking these types of questions because the answers can be affected by circumstances such as the weather. This in turn can give a great impact to the SWB report. This is one weakness that I see in the surveys because researchers must also take into consideration the mood of the person during the time the questions are asked, as well as the problems the person is facing currently, and many more. A way to overcome this challenge is to make sure that large sampling is involved when conducting the SWB survey.
Psychologists and even economists have observed a number of factors affecting differences in SWB results among individuals. These are personality traits, health, marriage, gender, age, environmental conditions, economic conditions, and a lot more. What caught my attention during the research stage would be the factor of unemployment which results to varied SWB scores among individuals. To expound on unemployment, I will first be tackling the general perception of wealth and subjective well being plus the social comparison theory and how it affects SWB.
These other factors are interrelated with unemployment as a factor of decreased SWB levels. Happiness, or to be more specific, subjective well being, has a lot of factors that shape or affect it. What matters most when studying SWB? We can sum it up into three: Health, Money, and Relationships. There is a need to look at and measure the components of these three, through the use of what economists call, “happiness surveys. ” But first, let’s take a closer look about the theory that wealth increases the SWB levels of people.