Study Homes In on the Key to Happiness

New research suggests that stacking your priorities this way — with money a notch below time — can make a real difference in your sense of well-being.

Study Homes In on the Key to Happiness Photo (cc) by Jason Lander

Don’t let your near-empty wallet get you down. New research from the University of British Columbia suggests valuing your time more than money leads to greater happiness and a better sense of well-being.

The research study was published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. It’s based on six studies of more than 4,600 participants.

The study found a near-even split between participants who value time over money and vice versa, even when controlling for income level and marital status. But older participants were more likely to prioritize time over money.

“We found that prioritizing to have more time at the expense of having less money was associated with greater happiness,” lead researcher Ashley Whillans, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of British Columbia, said in a phone interview with Canadian broadcaster CTV News.

One study asked participants to choose between a more expensive apartment with a short commute or a less expensive apartment with a long commute. In another example, participants were asked to choose between a grad program that would result in a job with a high salary and long hours or a grad program that would lead to a job with fewer hours and a lower salary.

The study has its limitations. For example, it didn’t include poverty-level participants, who for obvious reasons may need to focus more on money than time.

Still, the study results suggest that spending your time pursuing the almighty dollar at the expense of free time may be a fruitless endeavor. Instead, if your disposable income allows it, Whillans recommends making small changes in your life that could pave the way to greater happiness. For example, you could work a little less, volunteer with a charity or hire a housecleaner so you aren’t forced to spend your time off cleaning.

“Having more free time is likely more important for happiness than having more money,” Whillans said in a statement. “Even giving up a few hours of a paycheck to volunteer at a food bank may have more bang for your buck in making you feel happier.”

Check out “The Key to Keeping Male Employees Happy in the Workplace.”

What do you think of the study? Do you value time over money or vice versa? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Krystal Steinmetz
Krystal Steinmetz
A former television and radio reporter, I stay at home with my two young children, run a small craft business and freelance for Money Talks News. I have a BA in journalism ... More


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