Cue Aretha: A little R-E-S-P-E-C-T trumps cold hard cash when it comes to being happy.
A new study in the journal Psychological Science shows that being respected and admired has greater effects on happiness than a higher socioeconomic status (which includes having a higher education and greater wealth).
"One of the reasons why money doesn't buy happiness is that people quickly adapt to the new level of income or wealth. Lottery winners, for example, are initially happy but then return to their original level of happiness quickly," study researcher Cameron Anderson, a psychological scientist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.
"It's possible that being respected, having influence, and being socially integrated just never gets old," Anderson added.
Anderson's research included four separate studies. In one of the studies, researchers calculated the "sociometric status" of 80 college students who were involved in activities ranging from the Greek system to ROTC. Their status was calculated by examining how their peers rated them socially, how they self-rated socially and their leadership positions. Their household incomes and other social well-being factors were also considered.
The researchers found that the study participants' well-being was linked more with their "sociometric status" than their wealth or other socioeconomic factors.
And in another one of the studies, researchers followed MBA students as they went from being in school to graduating and living life outside of school. They found that after they graduated, people whose sociometric statuses were higher had greater well-being, compared with those whose socioeconomic statuses were higher.
"I was surprised at how fluid these effects were -- if someone’s standing in their local ladder went up or down, so did their happiness, even over the course of nine months," Anderson said in the statement.
While this study showed that being respected correlates to being happy, another recent study showed that practicing positive character traits -- which could, in turn earn respect! -- is linked with greater well-being.
The study, in the Journal of Happiness Studies, showed that when you purposely train a positive character trait, it is linked with a higher reportage of well-being, evidenced by being in a good mood or being cheerful more often.