Dr Ron Fischer from the School of Psychology and Dr Diana Boer from Victoria’s Centre of Applied Cross-cultural Research conducted the study that was published by the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Their key question was whether providing people with money or autonomy (a strong degree of independence and choice) was more important for their well-being.
“Our findings provide new insights into well-being at the societal level,” says Dr Fischer.
“Giving individuals more autonomy appears to be important for reducing negative psychological symptoms, relatively independent of wealth.”
They examined a sample of 420,599 people from 63 countries spanning nearly 40 years by looking at studies involving three different psychological tests.
“Across all three studies and four data sets, we observed a very consistent and robust finding that societal values of individualism were the best predictors of well-being. Furthermore, if wealth was a significant predictor alone, this effect disappeared when individualism was entered.”
“Money leads to autonomy but it does not add to well-being or happiness.”