Self-esteem and income are related. But what is the cause and what is the effect? To illustrate this, a research group led by Wiebke Bledorn of the University of Zurich evaluated data from about 4,100 representatively selected adults in the Netherlands. Between 2019 and 2022, they repeatedly provided information about their income and self-esteem.
As the psychologist and her team wrote in the magazine:Psychological sciences« report, they were only able to find a weak relationship between income and self-esteem. But when they examined whether a change in one variable also changed the other, they discovered a more pronounced effect: As income increased, self-esteem subsequently improved. In the reverse order, the relationship was weaker. This applies to men and women, young and old, with or without a university degree.
The group concluded that the observed association could not be attributed solely to so-called selection effects, for example that people with high self-esteem strive for better-paying jobs, and that their behavior gives them better career prospects and perhaps advances faster. Instead, the data suggested a different explanation: income serves as a marker of social status, and in this way also affects self-esteem.
However, the researchers point out that income may be less relevant to status in other cultures than in the Netherlands, a wealthy, Western-influenced country with an above-average level of education. In addition, long-term studies over just four years will be needed to clarify how long the effects last. After a while, self-esteem can stabilize again at a place not far from its original level – as it did Feelings of happiness after winning the lottery It has been noticed.
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