It is often assumed that as our income rises so does our life satisfaction but this may not be the case with many people.
According to researchers, what really matters is when income is lost and this is only important for people who are highly conscientious, hardworking and diligent.
The research, which examined levels of life satisfaction and income changes in more than 18,000 adults over a nine-year period, revealed that income change is only important when individuals with specific personality characteristics experience an income loss.
According to the team, continually increasing our income is not an important factor for achieving greater happiness and well-being for most people living in economically-developed countries.
“Instead, we should aim for financial stability to achieve greater happiness while protecting those individuals who experience negative income shocks,” said Christopher Boyce of the behavioural science centre at the University of Stirling in Britain.
The study, involving two separate samples from Germany and Britain, asked participants annually about their income level and how satisfied they were with life.
Participants also answered questions on their personality at the start of the study.
Results revealed that regardless of personality, income increases did not affect life satisfaction.
When people lost income, however, there was a reduction in their life satisfaction.
This was far greater for those who reported themselves as being conscientious, namely they were thorough in their attitudes to life and work, energetic, effective and efficient in how they did things.
The study accounted for shifting circumstances such as entering or leaving work and changes to health and household make up.
It found that for people that were only even moderately conscientious, a loss of income had a negative impact at least two and a half times greater than less conscientious individuals.