A Dark Side Of The American Dream

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Research revolving around the effect of money on happiness is simple to find, given the multitude of papers on the subject. Despite this as a nation, and as individuals, we find it hard to let go of the concept that money could and will solve all our problems. Frequently money is interpreted by society to be a physiological need, since without money you can lack food, shelter, etc. Where money falls in Maslow’s needs hierarchy is often disputed. As a capitalist economy, desire to make money, and contribute back to the economy, is integral to our society. Tim Kasser, and Richard M. Ryan address these concepts in their empirical study, “A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration”.

Kasser’s …show more content…

However, that does not mean that Maslow’s opinion isn’t contested. At what point does security money provides extend past the safety a steady income provides? As investigated by Kasser et al. money, as an aspiration does not serve as a path to self-actualization. Self-actualization is the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and in his opinion is the end goal, as only a self-actualized person can truly experience happiness (Ryckman, 2012). However Maslow acknowledges seven exceptions to the hierarchy. Specifically applicable to this discussion are two exceptions. One exception is for people how spend or have spent their life worrying about lower level needs, specifically money and jobs that made the main thing for one to worry about to be food and shelter. And, according to Maslow, if an individual spends enough time worrying about lower level needs, then the higher levels disappear, and thus people in this category can be fully satisfied by having enough food, without the desire for more (Ryckman, 2012). On the contrary people who have not, or have not for an extended period of time, had to worry about lower level needs forget how important it is, and thus be willing to risk their lower level needs in order to maintain or create their higher level needs. An example of this would be quitting a job because your boss dislikes you, without considering how it would impact your lower level needs. Since a lack of money seems to minimize what needs to be quenched to achieve happiness, does this in turn mean that having more money maximizes what needs to be accomplished for happiness? This question was addressed by Kasser et al., amongst many other studies, however it appears that one can’t help but to fantasize about a singular fix existing,

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