Researchers studied a very controversial question: Can money buy happiness? It was hypothesized that money can be used to provide a buffer against the time famine and make individuals happier. Buying time-saving services was claimed to provide protection for people from the negative effects of time stress on life satisfaction. Researchers Ashley Whillans, Elizabeth Dunn, Paul Smeets, Rene Bekkers, and Michael Norton put their claimed beliefs to the test conducting 9 studies on this topic.
The first six studies of the experiment were correlation studies of an individual’s view of satisfaction with life in comparison to spending money on time saving services. Scientists operationalize their definition of time saving services to “encompass any way in which respondents could spend money to provide more time”. The definition of happiness or life satisfaction however was not defined in their study but left up to be determined by the participants. They used a broad large and diverse sample for their experiments. Of the participants in the first six studies 366 were recruited Mechanical Turks from the United States, 1,260 U.S. were Americans found through the GfK Knowledge Networks Panel, 467 were adults from Denmark, and 326 were working adults from Vancouver, Canada that were discovered in public settings. The Dutch millionaire population was studied in the fifth and six studies found from an Elite Research database on public records. These first studies gave all participants a survey of the same questions that included answering basic question about their background information along with how much money they spent each month on time saving services and rating life satisfaction.
Study 7 used Qualtrics a professional survey company to recruit 1,802 Americans over the age of 19. The method of study was a survey as well asking similar questions to before along with questions on how much money spent on groceries, money spent on material purchase, experiences, and time saving purchases. Study 8 used 60 adults from Vancouver, Canada and looked at how the buying of time casually promoted happiness. Giving participants $40 on back to back weekends. One weekend was designated to spend money on time saving services, while the other was designated to buying a material item. The participants then reported back their feelings all at the same time the night of their purchase. The final study conducted included giving 98 Canadian working adults a hypothetical $40 to spend on anything they wished. Participants were then asked what the money would be spent on and who it would go to.
The results across these diverse groups of all the studies showed that 28.2% used money to save them time resulting in a mean amount of $147.95 US dollars each month. A significant amount of people viewed spending money on time saving services as beneficial and increasing their life satisfaction. Studies also were shown not to be bias on income and that individuals from varying financial backgrounds showed similar results. Improvement on daily moods were reported higher in individuals who spent less money on material items and more on time saving purchases. Surprisingly however when giving money to spent on whatever you would want more people choose material items then purchases that could save them time.
Throughout the process of writing the summary of the research article I tried to keep in mind the 5 critical questions we were taught in class to ask ourselves when reading research. Putting yourself in a journalist’s shoes can be very difficult often research papers are very long and its not so easy making a whole study fit into a page limit of an article. Trying to pick out and touch on the most important pieces was hard for me to do because I wanted to include every aspect of the research. I think the most important thing to remember and think about when writing it is if it was generalized back to the right population. I wanted to make sure that my readers could understand the research and viewed it as accurate with no misleading details. I didn’t necessarily include all the p values of the experiment or quantitative results only because I believed it wasn’t essential for understanding the results. There were some variables I couldn’t include in my summary because it would have made my report too long like the percentages of each study.
We previously critiqued journalists very harshly on their ability to incorporate materials we believed essentially but having to do it myself I can see how they left some pieces out. Journalists also seem to make their articles more interesting and attention grabbing and add details that aren’t needed for the understanding of the article, but are needed to make an individual continue to read the article. Hearing “all people” versus the accurate depiction of the people studied makes a huge difference when interpreting research, however more individuals will probably be likely to read a paper that is directed to all people not just a certain group.