affective design

Exploring Emotional Design

Money Can Buy You Happiness, But Friends Cost a Lot Less

According to a research team from the University of London, money CAN buy you happiness. That being said, chances are you won’t get the kind of raise you’d need to compensate for losing the things that bring you happiness…Although a study like this appears to suggest that friends, family and social connections could be replaced with enough money, the message is actually the opposite.

Living with a loved one was found to bring the same amount of satisfaction as being given an £82,500 ($175,273 CDN) annual raise. Marriage brings happiness equivalent to a £53,833 ($114,324 CDN) a year raise. Having an active social life… is the equivalent of a £63,844 ($135,584 CDN) annual salary increase. And good health… equated to a £304,000-a-year ($645,598 CDN) raise in terms of the happiness derived. Friendships and successful relationships are ultimately the key to happiness…

The fact that someone is attempting to perform calculations like this makes me think of the idea of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is concerned with maximizing the “good”, which has been defined by various thinkers as happiness or pleasure (versus suffering or pain). Most applications of utilitarian theory seek to produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. While this sounds great in theory, in practice there are a number of problems with attempting to quantify a qualitative measure like happiness. Such calculations also do not account for the distribution of said happiness.

So the question is; how much money would it take to replace your health, or your spouse? If you’re anything like me, you’ve realized that NO amount of money can replace what we are all ultimately striving for. As the Greek dramatist Sophocles once said,

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life; that word is love.

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    1. Erik May 9th, 2010 7:59 pm

      This article was oddly heartwarming and unique. I’ve never put a value on my relationships, but I
      ‘m glad the number at least topped $100k…

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