This is Howard C. Park's blog. Interests: live music, simulations and modeling, languages, iPod, social and business networking, systems thinking, history of science, management, BBQ, trivia, good coffee, organizational learning, traveling, personal histories.
[P]eople will often consciously choose against their own happiness. Tversky and a colleague once asked subjects whether they’d prefer to be making $35,000 dollars a year while those around them were making $38,000 or $33,000 while those around them were making $30,000... Sixty-two per cent said they’d be happier in the latter case, but eighty-four per cent said they’d choose the former.This may seem crazy at first--that one would be happier making LESS money if they were making more than their neighbors. Are we really THAT petty? Is our happiness tied to a perception that we need to be "happier" than our neighbors? If this is true, than we can never hope to elevate the "overall happiness" of the world. There is some fixed amount of happiness, and like all limited resources, the problem becomes one of allocation/distribution, equity, efficiency(?), and the other dynamics that economists teach us.