1. Study links mental health to retirement savings

    September 13, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Medica Research Institute press release:

    The question of how mental health status affects decisions regarding retirement savings is becoming a pressing issue in the United States. Key factors contributing to this issue include the tenuous state of the Social Security system, greater use of defined-contribution pension plans by employers, longer lifespans, and the rise of depression and other mental health issues in older Americans.

    In the latest edition of the journal Health Economics, researchers Vicki Bogan of Cornell University and Angela Fertig, research investigator at Medica Research Institute, find that mental health problems have a large and significant negative effect on retirement savings.

    “A growing number of households are dealing with mental health issues like depression and anxiety,” says Fertig. “Our project studies the effect that mental health issues have on retirement savings because we need to understand how health problems may affect the economic security of this growing population.”

    The researchers found that psychological distress is associated with:

    • up to a 62 percent lower probability of holding retirement accounts
    • $15,000 less held in retirement savings accounts by single households and $42,000 less held by married couples
    • up to a 47 percent higher probability that married couples withdraw from their retirement accounts

    The results are generally consistent across single and married households. However, the study found some evidence to indicate that singles with psychological distress may divert funds away from retirement accounts, while married individuals with psychological distress may withdraw more from their retirement accounts. The study did not find evidence indicating that psychological distress affects retirement savings behavior through financial literacy or cognitive limitations.

    The effect sizes found are large, suggesting that more employer management and government regulation of defined-contribution pension plans, IRAs, and Keogh retirement accounts may be warranted.

    “The magnitude of these effects underscores the importance of employer management policy and government regulation of these accounts to help ensure households have adequate retirement savings,” says Fertig. “Better understanding the link between mental health and retirement savings decisions could inform policy interventions that may encourage households to save sufficient funds for retirement through defined contribution plans and shape national changes to the defined contribution plan withdrawal penalties.”


  2. Study suggests personality may drive purchasing of luxury goods

    September 6, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University College London press release:

    People who are extraverted and on low incomes buy more luxury goods than their introverted peers to compensate for the experience of low financial status, finds new UCL research.

    The study, published today in Psychological Science, used real life spending data from UK bank accounts to investigate the spending habits of richer and poorer people with different personality types.

    People living on a low income often feel low status in society and spend a higher percentage of their money on goods and services that are perceived to have a high status.

    “We’ve shown that personality looks to be an important factor in how people respond to living with limited resources. We hope this new association will help us better understand which people may be likely to engage in behaviour that perpetuates the conditions of financial hardship,” explained Joe Gladstone, study co-author from UCL School of Management.

    Previous research has found that people who are sociable and outgoing care more about their social status than others. The new research shows that when extraverted people have a lower income, they spend proportionately more on status goods than introverts on the same income. At higher incomes, the difference in spending lessens as introverted people buy more luxury goods.

    “It’s clear from our study that an extraverted personality is a driver for low-income individuals purchasing more luxury goods, and this is most likely to compensate for a perceived low social status that isn’t as keenly felt by introverts. We saw very little difference in the spending habits of introverts and extraverts with high incomes,” said Blaine Landis, study co-author from UCL School of Management.

    The study was conducted in collaboration with a UK-based multinational bank. Customers were asked whether they would complete a standard personality questionnaire, and to consent to their responses being matched anonymously for research purposes with their bank transaction data.

    The study analysed thousands of transactions from 718 customers over 12 months. The results took into account other factors that could influence spending habits, such as age, sex, employment status and whether the customers had children. Cash spending was also taken into account.

    Each person’s spending data were sorted into a number of spending categories from one (very low status) to five (very high status). High-status categories (i.e., those with average scores of four or five) included foreign air travel, golf, electronics and art institutions, whereas low-status categories (i.e., those with average scores of two or one) included pawnbrokers, salvage yards and discount stores.

    The team found the interaction between income and extraversion in predicting spending on luxury goods is significant and emphasize that while this useful in understanding the relationship, further research is needed to see whether the relationship is causal and whether the results are representative of the UK population as a whole.


  3. Smokers 20 percent more likely to quit when cigarettes cost $1 more

    September 3, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Drexel University press release:

    Older smokers are usually more set in their ways, but a dollar increase in cigarette prices makes them 20 percent more likely to quit, a new Drexel University study found.

    The study, published in Epidemiology, used 10 years of neighborhood-level price data to determine how it affected nearby smokers, focusing on those who skewed older.

    Older adult smokers have been smoking for a long time and tend to have lower rates of smoking cessation compared to younger populations, suggesting deeply entrenched behavior that is difficult to change,” said Stephanie Mayne, PhD, the lead author of the study who is a former doctoral student at Drexel and now a fellow at Northwestern. “Our finding that increases in cigarette prices were associated with quitting smoking in the older population suggests that cigarette taxes may be a particularly effective lever for behavior change.”

    Taking a look at the local relationship between smoking habits and cigarette prices is an understudied but important area to look at, according to the senior author on the study, Amy Auchincloss, PhD, associate professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health.

    “Results on this topic primarily have come from population surveillance,” she said. “But we had neighborhood tobacco price data and could link that to a cohort of individuals who were followed for about 10 years.”

    Smoking cessation remains an important focus of public health efforts since it remains the largest preventable cause of death and disease in not just the United States, but the world.

    The cohort Mayne and Auchincloss looked at included smokers ranging in age from 44 to 84 and stretched across six different places, including the Bronx, Chicago, and the county containing Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Data were taken from the study population between 2002 and 2012 as a part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Artherosclerosis (MESA).

    In addition to finding that current smokers were 20 percent more likely to quit smoking when pack prices went up by a dollar, Mayne and Auchincloss’ team showed that there was a 3 percent overall reduction in smoking risk.

    However, when the data was narrowed to heavy smokers (defined as smoking more than half a pack a day), there was a 7 percent reduction in risk. When prices increased by a dollar, heavy smokers also showed a 35 percent reduction in the average number of cigarettes they smoked per day, compared to 19 percent less in the overall smoking population.

    “Since heavy smokers smoke more cigarettes per day initially, they may feel the impact of a price increase to a greater degree and be more likely to cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis,” Mayne said.

    While the data focused on a population older than 44, Mayne believes the price effect may be “similar or possibly stronger in a younger population.”

    “Some research suggests younger adults may be more price-sensitive than older adults,” she pointed out.

    Something she found, though, was that smoking bans in bars and restaurants did not appear to have any effect on smoking behavior in the study population. Although more research is likely necessary to see why that is and whether it’s true — Mayne will soon publish a study devoted to that — one possible explanation is that the economic pressures of a cigarette price increase provide a stronger incentive to quit than placing limits on smoking in public places.

    Mark Stehr, PhD, an associate professor in Drexel’s School of Economics who also served as a co-author on the study, also had a thought on the bans’ effect.

    “A ban may be circumvented by going outside or staying home, whereas avoiding a price increase might take more effort,” he pointed out.

    Based on results from this study, raising cigarette prices appears to be a better strategy for encouraging smoking cessation across all ages.

    “More consistent tax policy across the United States might help encourage more older adults to quit smoking,” Mayne said.

    “Given our findings, if an additional one dollar was added to the U.S. tobacco tax, it could amount to upwards of one million fewer smokers,” Auchincloss said. “Short of federal taxes, raising state and local taxes and creating minimum price thresholds for tobacco should be essential components of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy — particularly in places with high tobacco prevalence.


  4. ‘Tightwads and spenders’ study examines financial perceptions that hurt couples

    August 30, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Brigham Young University press release:

    When a husband thinks his wife spends too much money, whether it’s reality or perception, financial and marriage problems follow.

    A new multistate study from researchers at BYU and Kansas State University looked at contrasting financial personalities in a marriage. They titled the personalities “tightwads and spenders,” as seen in the Journal of Financial Planning.

    What shaped these personalities in marriage wasn’t concrete attributes the individuals displayed or even the circumstances they were in. Rather, it was the perception about how spendy the other spouse was.

    “The fact that spouses’ perceptions of each other’s spending behaviors were so predictive of financial conflict suggests that when it comes to the impact of finances on relationships, perceptions may be just as important, if not more important, than reality,” said Ashley LeBaron, BYU graduate student and study co-author.

    The study found that for husbands, having a wife who they saw as a spender was the highest contributor to financial conflict. For wives, having a husband who viewed them as a spender was the highest contributor to financial conflict. This was seen for couples with high incomes and low incomes as well as with couples who spent a lot and those who did not spend much at all. The views were completely relative to perception.

    LeBaron worked with BYU family life professor Jeffrey Hill as well as a national expert in the area of finances in marriage, Kansas State professor Sonya Britt-Lutter.

    “Couples need to communicate about finances, especially early in marriage,” Britt-Lutter said. “Don’t think that financial problems will magically go away when circumstances change. The study showed that circumstances weren’t the issue here, perception was, and perception doesn’t always change when circumstances do.”

    Secondarily to the perception of a spendy wife, the study found that men saw having more children as impacting financial conflict, and women saw a lack of financial communication overall as impacting financial conflict.

    Of those who participated in the study, 90 percent of women and 85 percent of men reported that they experienced some kind of financial worries.

    The researchers suggest that no matter what the perceptions or realities are exactly, if finances are causing problems in a marriage, help is possible.

    “The good news is that couples can benefit from clinical help,” Hill said, “whether that be a financial planner or a marriage and family therapist.”

    There are also a host of resources available online, paid and free, to assist in budgeting and money management.

    Data for this study came from BYU’s Flourishing Families Project, which is a longitudinal, multi-informant, multi-method look at inner-family dynamics. The project began in 2007 and to date includes 10 waves of data (including questionnaire, video and physiological data) on nearly 700 families from two locations. Hundreds of BYU undergraduate and graduate students have been involved over the course of the project.


  5. Systematic research investigates effects of money on thinking, behavior

    July 21, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Association for Psychological Science press release:

    Numerous studies have shown that being prompted to think about money can predispose people to engage in self-sufficient thinking and behavior — but some findings suggest that demographic characteristics may moderate this type of effect. In a new research article, scientists present results from three experiments that systematically explore these money-priming effects, finding inconsistent evidence for the effect of money primes on various measures of self-sufficient thinking and behavior.

    The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

    Psychology researcher Eugene M. Caruso (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) and co-authors Oren Shapira (Stony Brook University) and Justin Landy (also Chicago Booth) were motivated to carry out this systematic exploration after conducting a set of studies in which they observed varied findings that were inconsistent with their predictions.

    In their initial studies, Caruso and his collaborators found that the effects of money reminders on participants’ thinking often seemed to depend on certain demographic characteristics, a result they were not expecting. In discussing these results, they discovered that colleagues had also observed unpredicted interaction effects in their research in this area.

    Importantly, the kinds of interaction effects observed seemed to vary across different studies that used different techniques for activating the concept of money.

    “These inconsistent results led us to step back to try to gain a better understanding of whether different money primes lead to similar effects, and whether they interact with sociodemographic characteristics in a reliable, and potentially theoretically meaningful, manner,” Caruso explains.

    To do this, Caruso, Shapira, and Landy decided to systematically evaluate the effects of various money-priming manipulations on a predetermined set of outcomes while accounting for the potential influence of certain sociodemographic factors, within a single experiment that sampled a diverse group of participants.

    In their first experiment, the researchers recruited a total of 2,167 participants for an online study, randomly assigning participants to receive specific primes. For example, some saw a faint image of $100 bills in the background of the instructions screen, others were asked to select the best sizes and shapes for new paper currency, some completed phrases that included money-related terms, while others were asked to imagine having ample access to money. Some participants saw a clear image of $100 bills and were explicitly asked to describe what money meant to them, while others were asked to recall a time when they felt powerful.

    The results showed that four of the five money primes did activate the concept of money. Participants exposed to these primes were more likely to complete word stems to create money-related words compared with participants who received a neutral prime or no prime — only those exposed to the background image of money showed no difference in the word completion task relative to their peers.

    But the primes seemed to have weak and inconsistent effects on participants’ feelings of wealth and self-sufficiency. Only participants who imagined an abundant life reported differences in self-sufficiency, and they actually reported lower self-sufficiency compared with those who received a neutral prime, an unexpected finding.

    Additionally, there was little evidence to suggest that the effects of the primes on various outcomes were moderated by any of the demographic characteristics measured, including gender, socioeconomic status, and political ideology.

    The researchers observed similar results in a second online experiment with 2,150 participants that omitted the money-activation measure.

    In a third experiment, Caruso, Shapira, and Landy conducted a lab-based study with 332 members of the university community. To examine the effects of money primes on self-sufficient behavior, the researchers measured how long participants spent working on a puzzle that was actually unsolvable before they asked for help.

    The results echoed those of the previous online studies: The three money primes tested had weak and inconsistent effects across the different outcome measures. Only those participants who unscrambled phrases including money-related terms reported greater feelings of self-sufficiency relative to the comparison group.

    “Contrary to what we expected based on the published literature, we did not find that any manipulation consistently affected any dependent measure across our three studies, nor did we find reliable evidence for statistical moderation by sociodemographic characteristics,” says Caruso.

    The researchers urged caution in interpreting the findings relative to specific published studies, given that the three experiments were not designed to be exact replications of any one study. Rather, this series of experiments can be seen as offering a rigorous and systematic examination of a particular effect.

    “Beyond the implications for money-priming research, we hope that our methodological approach — comparing multiple manipulations of a construct and assessing multiple individual-difference moderators within the same heterogeneous sample — can make a broader contribution by supplementing the emerging toolkit of methodologies for establishing the reliability of individual effects and the validity of the theories that attempt to explain them,” Caruso concludes.


  6. Ill-gotten gains are worth less in the brain

    May 7, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University College London press release:

    The brain responds less to money gained from immoral actions than money earned decently, reveals a new UCL-led study.

    The research, published in Nature Neuroscience and funded by Wellcome, helps explain why most people are reluctant to seek illicit gains by identifying a neural process that dampens the appeal of profiting at other people’s expense.

    “When we make decisions, a network of brain regions calculates how valuable our options are,” explained lead author Dr Molly Crockett of the University of Oxford, who carried out the research while based at the UCL Wellcome Centre for Neuroimaging. “Ill-gotten gains evoke weaker responses in this network, which may explain why most people would rather not profit from harming others. Our results suggest the money just isn’t as appealing.”

    The research team scanned volunteers’ brains as they decided whether to anonymously inflict pain on themselves or strangers in exchange for money. The study builds on previous research by the same team that showed people dislike harming others more than harming themselves. This behaviour was seen again in this study, with most people more willing to harm themselves than others for profit.

    The study involved 28 pairs of participants who were anonymously paired and randomly assigned to be either the ‘decider’ or the ‘receiver’. Deciders picked between different amounts of money for different numbers of electric shocks. Half the decisions related to shocks for themselves and half to shocks for the receiver, but in all cases the deciders would get the money. The shocks were matched to each recipient’s pain threshold to be mildly painful but tolerable. The deciders were in an fMRI brain scanner.

    As they made their decisions, a brain network including the striatum was activated, as it has been shown in previous studies to be key to value computation. As they decided between more profitable options or those with fewer shocks, this brain network signalled how beneficial each option was. The network responded less to money gained from shocking others, compared with money gained from shocking oneself — but only in those people who behaved morally.

    Meanwhile, the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), a brain region involved in making moral judgments, was most active in trials where inflicting pain yielded minimal profit. In a follow-up study, participants made moral judgements about decisions to harm others for profit, and considered those same trials to be the most blameworthy. Taken together, the findings suggest the LPFC was assessing blame. When people refused to profit from harming others, this region was communicating with the striatum, suggesting that neural representations of moral rules might disrupt the value of ill-gotten gains encoded in the striatum.

    “Our findings suggest the brain internalizes the moral judgments of others, simulating how much others might blame us for potential wrongdoing, even when we know our actions are anonymous,” Dr Crockett said.

    Senior author Professor Ray Dolan (UCL Max Planck Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research) said: “What we have shown here is how values that guide our decisions respond flexibly to moral consequences. An important goal for future research is understanding when and how this circuitry is disturbed in contexts such as antisocial behaviour.”


  7. Staking self-worth on the pursuit of money has negative psychological consequences

    April 30, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University at Buffalo press release:

    Although people living in consumer-based cultures such as the U.S. often believe that they will be happier if they acquire more money, the findings of a newly published paper by a University at Buffalo research team suggest that there may be downsides to this pursuit.

    The pursuit of money in and of itself is not bad, but there are risks to consider when it is fueled by a desire to boost self-esteem. When people tie their self-worth to the pursuit of financial success, they are more vulnerable to negative psychological consequences, according to Lora Park, an associate professor of psychology at UB and the study’s lead author.

    Specifically, basing self-esteem on financial success predicted making more financially-based social comparisons with others, feeling less autonomy and control over one’s life, and experiencing more financial hassles, stress and anxiety. These findings were evident even after accounting for other variables, such as financial status, materialistic values and importance of financial goals.

    “People don’t often think of the possible down sides of wrapping their identity and self-worth around financial pursuits, because our society values wealth as a model of how one should be in the world,” says Park. “It’s important to realize these costs because people are gravitating toward this domain as a source of self-esteem without realizing that it has these unintended consequences.”

    Park’s paper, with UB graduate student Deborah Ward and UB assistant professor of psychology Kristin Naragon-Gainey, appears in the latest issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

    Working with samples of 349 college students and a nationally representative group of 389 participants, the researchers first developed a scale to measure Financial Contingency of Self-Worth (CSW), or the degree to which people base their self-esteem on financial success, and then conducted a series of experiments to examine the effects of threatening people’s sense of financial security.

    When we asked people to write about a financial stressor, they experienced a drop in their feelings of autonomy,” says Park. “They also showed more disengagement from their financial problems — they gave up searching for solutions. We didn’t find this in people who didn’t tie their self-esteem to financial success or among those who were asked to write about an academic stressor.”

    In those essays, the researchers also coded the type of language participants used to describe their financial problems.

    “We found that people who highly based their self-worth on financial success used more negative emotion-related words, like sadness and anger,” says Park. “This demonstrates that just thinking about a financial problem generates a lot of stress and negative emotions for these individuals.”

    But Park says this effect is eliminated if you get people to self-affirm by giving them an opportunity to think about their personal strengths.

    “This suggests that self-esteem concerns emerge when people are thinking about financial problems, but if you can repair their self-esteem by having them think about their strengths, then there is no reduction in feelings of autonomy.”

    A final study found that people who based their self-esteem on financial success — and were led to believe that they would experience financial instability in their future — became more cautious when it came to extravagant spending decisions. This could be interpreted as a desire of these individuals to protect their self-esteem following this financial threat, suggests Park.

    This research also has implications beyond finances and self-esteem and has many possible future directions, such as the effects of financially contingent self-worth on close relationships, group dynamics and organizational settings.


  8. Study suggests understanding money may reduce worry about old age

    April 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Hiroshima University press release:

    People who possess a greater understanding of finance are less likely to fret about life in their twilight years.

    It seems financial literacy — the ability to understand how money works, enables people to accumulate more assets and income during their lifetime, and so increases confidence for the years ahead.

    Additionally, financial literacy seemingly engenders a greater perception for risk and enables those who have it to face off later-life’s dilemmas with ease.

    These findings, from Associate Professor Yoshihiko Kadoya of Hiroshima University and Mostafa Saidur Rahim Khan of Nagoya University, stem from a study which asked people from across Japan to answer questions assessing their calculation skills, understanding of pricing behavior, and financial securities such as bonds and stocks.

    Respondents were also asked about their accumulated wealth, assets, and lifestyle — and to rate the level of anxiety they felt about life beyond 65.

    As the first study to investigate financial literacy as a contributing factor to anxiety about old age, it should prove useful to policy makers in Japan and other developed countries where population aging is a growing concern.

    The study has thrown up several intriguing findings for economic gurus to mull over. It suggests that financial literacy is not particularly high throughout Japanese society, and that men, and those with a higher level of education are more financially clued-in than women, and those with less education respectively.

    The overriding thrust is that the more financially literate earn and accumulate more during their lifetime — and thus worry less about growing old.

    It also appears that financial literacy helps shape people’s perception towards risk and uncertainty — making them more capable and confident in tackling whatever problems life throws at them.

    Professor Kadoya says that financial literacy increases our awareness about financial products, builds a capacity to compare all available financial options, and changes our financial behavior — all which bodes well for our perceptions of, and actual experiences during our seniority.

    While financial literacy taken alone was seen to reduce anxiety — its affect was further heightened by other factors.

    Married respondents had even lower levels of anxiety about growing old than financially literate singletons. This could be down to married couples together planning more-effectively for the future due to familial responsibilities.

    Age also plays a significant role, with anxiety levels peaking around 40. The researchers suggest that people at this age have the most home and workplace responsibilities, but with less money and time to support them, increasing anxiety about the here and now — and the journey ahead.

    Interestingly as people get older their anxiety levels drop off on gaining access to social security, government funded health care and pensions — all taking the sting out of the post-retirement blues.

    Having dependent children on the other hand increased anxiety levels — presumably due to respondent’s worry for their children’s wellbeing — as well as their own.

    The findings should have implications for Japan and other countries where retirees account for a large and rapidly growing share of the population.

    Although Japan has a universal pension system, its benefits depend on an individual’s ability to pay throughout their working life. As in much of the developed world, it is increasingly perceived that a pension is insufficient for daily expenses without a backup pool of savings and assets — putting the financially literate at a distinct advantage.

    But should we be worrying about our finances in old age at all? Professor Kadoya doesn’t think so and says governments need to develop strategies to stem an anxiety pandemic:

    “People shouldn’t spend time worrying about the future. That is why governments provide pensions, housing, and medical plans. If the perception is that these are not fulfilling their purpose then governments and providers need to look at making them more accessible — if people are still worried then we need to look at educating people about these services that are supplied for their needs.”


  9. Are market bubbles caused by traders’ testosterone levels?

    March 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev press release:

    Research conducted at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) has determined that psychological momentum significantly affects performance among men but not among women, which may account for exaggerated risk-taking in financial and business endeavors among males.

    Psychological momentum is defined as a state-of-mind where an individual or a team feels things are going unstoppably their way and is known to be caused, among other factors, by shifts in testosterone levels. The study, “Psychological Momentum and Gender,” is published in the March volume of the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

    According to Dr. Danny Cohen-Zada, a lecturer in the BGU Department of Economics, “The purpose of our study was twofold: to estimate the causal effect of psychological momentum on performance in real tournament settings, and to examine whether there are any gender differences in the corresponding response.”

    The researchers analyzed two different samples of men’s and women’s judo competitions from 2009 to 2013. In the first, they looked at the bronze medal fights of each tournament. While competitors in this fight won the same number of total bouts, some had won their most recent bout while others did not. Those who reached the bronze medal fight following a win have a potential momentum advantage.

    The authors examined this unique setting to determine whether the contestants with the momentum advantage had a higher probability to win the fight.

    “Our results showed that based on a cross-section analysis of 106 men’s and 111 women’s fights from eight major annual judo events, having a psychological momentum advantage significantly increases the winning probability in men’s contests but not in women’s,” says Dr. Alex Krumer of the Swiss Institute for Empirical Economic Research (SEW), University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

    In the second part of the study, based on the head-to-head history of the pairs from the first sample and analyzing 225 men’s and 231 women’s fights, the researchers obtained similar results by analyzing how the performance of the same pair of judokas (judo experts) is affected by varied momentum statuses in different tournaments. As expected, the results of these specifications indicate that the psychological momentum effect exists among men, but not among women.

    The researchers believe that their findings have implications for business. “We can connect our findings to the effect of psychological momentum in financial markets of which 90 percent are men,” says Dr. Ze’ev Shtudiner from the Department of Economics and Business Administration, Ariel University, Israel. Drs. Krumer and Shtudiner earned their doctoral degrees in economics from BGU.

    “Such an effect may lead male traders, driven by an increase in testosterone due to a successful investment, to take exaggerated risks, which, in turn, create price bubbles,” says Dr. Shtudiner. “By increasing the number of women in financial markets, it may be possible to stabilize these markets since women have less dramatic shifts in testosterone levels, which can make them less prone to the momentum effect. This argument is consistent with our results that momentum effects are generated only among men, since it is only among them that testosterone levels increase after success.”

    According to Dr. Krumer, “An increased frequency of positive feedback from managers after successful actions may turn into a positive psychological momentum and thus increase productivity. Similarly, managers should exert efforts to reduce the influence of unsuccessful actions of their workers to avoid productivity losses.”

    Given these findings, Dr. Cohen-Zada believes additional research would be beneficial focusing on the role of psychological effects on performance in male-dominated positions, such as stockbrokers, high-profile managers, politicians, and military commanders.


  10. Looking for happiness in all the wrong places

    January 6, 2016 by Ashley

    From the Taylor & Francis media release:

    Depression frustrationEveryone knows that money can’t buy happiness — but what might make rich people happier is revealed in the current issue of The Journal of Positive Psychology.

    James A. Roberts of Baylor University and his two colleagues set out to explore the relationship between materialism — making acquisition of material possessions a central focus of one’s life — and life satisfaction.

    Numerous studies have already shown that people who are more materialistic are generally less satisfied with their standards of living, their relationships and their lives as a whole. With that being the case, the researchers wondered if anything could moderate that relationship and in effect make materialistic people more satisfied with their lot.

    They write: “Given the negative relationship that materialism has with positive affect, it stands to reason that positive affect and related constructs such as gratitude might be important moderators in the association between materialism and life satisfaction. In contrast to materialism, gratitude is a positive emotion that is experienced when someone perceives that another person has intentionally given him or her a valued benefit.”

    To test their theory, the trio analyzed the results of a specially designed questionnaire sent to 249 university students. The main results were as expected. “People who pursue happiness through material gain tend to feel worse, and this is related to negative appraisals of their satisfaction with life,” they confirmed.

    However, their results also demonstrated that gratitude, and to a lesser extent, positive affect, both ‘buffer’ the negative effects of materialism, in effect making more grateful individuals more satisfied with their lives.

    The team observed: “Individuals high in gratitude showed less of a relationship between materialism and negative affect. Additionally, individuals high in materialism showed decreased life satisfaction when either gratitude or positive affect was low.”

    The trio conclude that negative affect, positive affect and gratitude seem to be ‘key pieces to the puzzle of the relationship between materialism and dissatisfaction with life.‘ They suggest that the ‘pro-social, other-focused nature of gratitude’ might help to reduce the ‘self-focus’ inherent in materialism.

    “Specifically, individuals who are able to appreciate what they have even while engaging in materialistic pursuits might be able to be maintain high levels of life satisfaction.”

    In other words, being rich isn’t enough to make you happy; you also need to be grateful as well.