Happiness Research

What should you spend your money on? How effective is therapy at increasing happiness? The latest research from the Journal of Health Economics, Policy and Law ( Boyce and Wood) has an article entitled Money or Mental Health: Alleviating Psychological Distress with Monetary Compensation versus Psychological Therapy. This research analyzed data sets where thousands of people gave reports on their well-being. They compared well-being ratings for subjects who got a 4 month course of psychotherapy to the ratings of those who had a sudden increase in income through winnings and pay raises. The increase in well-being from $1300 of therapy was equivalent in this study to the well-being obtained by an increase of $40, 726 in pay. Dr. Boyce writes that the purpose of the study is to help people see that they may be overestimating the effect that money has on their well-being. We should be questioning whether our current spending patterns are having the best impact on our well-being and making our mental health a priority. Perhaps courts should consider awarding therapy visits instead of dollars to plaintiffs. Having material wealth is unlikely to improve mental health, contrary to common myths, and people might be better off spending money on psychological therapy which seems 32 times more effective than money at increasing feelings of well-being.