Tag Archives: income

Cynical Beliefs Linked to Lower Earnings, Poorer Health

Olga Stavrova

Olga Stavrova

People who hold cynical beliefs about human nature and the world have lower incomes than those with a more optimistic view, found University of Cologne’s Olga Stavrova and Daniel Ehlebracht.

Cynical beliefs are measured by statements including:

  • “I think most people would lie to get ahead,”
  • “It’s safer to trust nobody,”
  • “Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it.”
Daniel Ehlebracht

Daniel Ehlebracht

People who agree with these ideas may avoid cooperation, trust and collaboration with others and while focusing on monitoring, control, and preventing potential exploitation.

Volunteers who endorsed these self-protective behaviors and cynical beliefs reported lower personal income than people who demonstrate greater trust and interpersonal collaboration in studies using a representative sample of Americans between 1986 and 2012, and replicated with a representative German group between 2003 and 2012.

Robert McCrae

Robert McCrae

A related study showed that income-suppressing cynical beliefs are not associated with enduring personality characteristic measured by Robert McCrae of NIH and Paul Costa’s Big Five personality dimensions.

In addition, lower earnings were not explained by cynical individuals’ poorer health, lower education, and greater agreement with items that measure neuroticism and introversion.

Paul Costa

Paul Costa

However, some cynical beliefs are justified by the local environment, such as in counties with low levels of charitable giving, high homicide rates and high overall societal cynicism levels.
Survey data from 41 countries showed that people in these contexts who held cynical beliefs did not have lower personal income than those with more optimistic views.

Anna-Maija Tolppanen

Anna-Maija Tolppanen

Holding cynical beliefs about people was also associated with greater risk of dementia and death among the elderly in a study over 8 to 10 years, according to University of Eastern Finland’s Elisa NeuvonenMinna Rusanen, Anna-Maija Tolppanen, collaborating with Alina Solomon of University of Kuopio, Flinders University’s Tiina Laatikainen, with Tiia Ngandu of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare, Hilkka Soininen of Hospital District of North Karelia, and Kuopio University Hospital’s Miia Kivipelto.

Alina Solomon

Alina Solomon

The team measured cynical distrust with the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale (CMHS) by University of Minnesota’s Walter Cook and Donald Medley, and cognitive status using screening, clinical phase, and differential diagnosis using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) criteria for more than 1450 people.

People with highest level of cynical distrust had higher risk of dementia after the researchers controlled for confounding factors including:

  • Age,
  • Gender,
  • Systolic blood pressure,
  • Total cholesterol,
  • Fasting glucose,
  • Body mass index,
  • Socioeconomic background,
  • Smoking,
  • Alcohol use,
  • Self-reported health,
  • Apolipoprotein E (APOE).
Tiina Laatikainen

Tiina Laatikainen

People with highest levels of cynical distrust were three times more likely to develop dementia than people with low levels of cynicism, even when Neuvonen’s team controlled for effects of dementia risk, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

Tiia Ngandu

Tiia Ngandu

This finding supports suggestions that people who are more open and optimistic have a lower risk for dementia.

Hilary Tindle

Hilary Tindle

In related findings, positive expectations about the future, and trait optimism were associated with reduced rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) and mortality in postmenopausal women, reported University of Pittsburgh’s Hilary A. Tindle, Yue-Fang Chang, Lewis H. Kuller, Greg J. Siegle, Karen A. Matthews, collaborating with Harvard’s JoAnn E. Manson, Jennifer G. Robinson of University of Iowa, and University of Massachusetts’ Milagros C. Rosal.

Michael Scheier

Michael Scheier

More than 97,250 white and black women with no signs of cancer and cardiovascular disease completed the Life Orientation Test–Revised (LOT-R) by Carnegie Mellon’s Michael Scheier and Charles Carver of University of Miami, plus the Cook Medley Questionnaire’s cynicism subscale.

Charles Carver

Charles Carver

Women who scored in the top quartile for optimism had lower age-adjusted rates of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and total mortality.
Black women with this optimistic perspective also had significantly less cancer-related mortality.

In contrast, those who scored in the top quartile for cynical hostility had significantly higher rates of CHD and total mortality, reinforcing the value of cultivating a positive viewpoint.

Hilkka Soininen

Hilkka Soininen

Likewise, individuals with the highest cynical distrust measured by Cook-Medley Hostility Scale had higher risk of dementia after adjusting for confounding factors including socioeconomic position, lifestyle, alcohol use, and health status, found Neuvonen’s team.

Financial, physical, and cognitive well-being can be enhanced by cultivating optimism and trust and reducing cynicism.

-*How do you increase and sustain optimism, trust, and collaboration?

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Happiness-Money Connection: Halo Effect of Happy Mood? Part 1

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

“(More) Money can’t buy (more) happiness” has been demonstrated in a research study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Nobel Prize winner and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, with Angus Deaton.

They analyzed more than 450,000 responses to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a daily survey of 1,000 US residents conducted by the Gallup Organization, and distinguished two elements of “subjective well-being” or happiness:

  • Emotional well-being – Frequency and intensity of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection,leading to pleasant or unpleasant quality of life, measured by Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Scale of yesterday’s emotional experiences
  • Life evaluation – Subjective assessment of one’s life.

They found that as emotional well-being rises with income up to about $75,000 in 2010 US dollars, then does not continue increasing with higher income levels.
In addition, daily emotions were predicted by health status, care giving, loneliness, and smoking.

Life evaluation increased as income and education increased, and the study confirmed that low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with divorce, ill health, and being alone.

Michael Norton

Michael Norton

In fact, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School found that volunteers’ happiness increased with more money only when they spent money on others.

Replicated in Canada, Uganda, Rwanda, and other countries, his research found that happiness increases when people:

  • Select experiences over things
  • Spend money on others, regardless of the amount of money spent

 He concluded that money can buy happiness when it’s spent on other people and experiences in Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending … a worthwhile reminder in this season of gift-giving.
Norton’s TED talk

British researchers investigated longitudinal connections between happiness and money, and found that people who express more positive emotions as teenagers have more positive life outcomes as adults, including higher education and income.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of University College London and Andrew Oswald of

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve

University of Warwick  analyzed Carolina Population Center’s National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (“Add Health”) profiles of more than 10,000 Americans at ages 16, 18 and 22 and  their annual incomes at age 29.

De Neve and Oswald controlled for education level, IQ, height and self-esteem, all known to contribute to financial success.

Reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found that those who express more positive emotions in their teen years, reported greater life satisfaction and optimism as young adults, were more likely to earn a university degree, secure employment, advance to higher-level roles, and have higher incomes by age 29.

The survey assessed life satisfaction on a 5-point scale, and found that an increase of 1-point at age 22 made translated to a $2,000 difference in later income measured in in 2012 US dollars, and the later income difference between the happiest and unhappiest participants was $8,000 by the same measure.

Andrew Oswald

Andrew Oswald

DeNeve and Oswald validated the finding by comparing about 3,000 sibling pairs who shared the same parents and socioeconomic status.
They found that the happier siblings also had more positive emotions and life evaluation than less-happy participants.

One explanation of these findings is that observers generalize positive impressions of people who display more positive emotions in a “halo effect”, so these happier individuals are seen as more likeable, competent and attractive, and are offered more opportunities for education, employment, and social relationships.

These findings suggest the importance of increasing the “Emotional Intelligence” competencies of emotional self-regulation.
See The Happiness-Money Connection: Halo Effect of Happy Mood?Part 2 for research-based recommendations on developing happiness and well-being.

-*How do you view the connection between happiness and money?

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