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Money Not a Good Measure of Your Self-Worth

HealthDay News
by -- Steven Reinberg
Updated: Apr 14th 2020

new article illustration

TUESDAY, April 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- When the Beatles sang that "money can't buy me love," they were right, researchers say.

"When people base their self-worth on financial success, they experience feelings of pressure and a lack of autonomy, which are associated with negative social outcomes," said researcher Lora Park, an associate professor of psychology at University at Buffalo, in New York.

These feelings end up costing time with family and loved ones that lead to feeling lonely and disconnected, the researchers said.

Having social networks and personal relationships are essential for good mental health, which is why people should keep these connections, even when they are pursuing financial success, the study authors explained.

"Depression and anxiety are tied to isolation, and we're certainly seeing this now with the difficulties we have connecting with friends during the COVID-19 pandemic," said University at Buffalo graduate student and researcher Deborah Ward.

"These social connections are important. We need them as humans in order to feel secure, to feel mentally healthy and happy," Ward said in a university news release. "But much of what's required to achieve success in the financial domain comes at the expense of spending time with family and friends."

At the heart of the research is an idea psychologists call "financial contingency of self-worth."

Basically, when you see your self-worth as contingent on money, you view financial success as the core of who you are as a person.

For the new study, the researchers looked at five previously published studies that included more than 2,500 people. Each study looked for connections between money and self-worth and time with others, loneliness and social disconnection.

"We saw consistent associations between valuing money in terms of who you are and experiencing negative social outcomes in previous work, so this led us to ask the question of why these associations are present," Ward said.

"We see these findings as further evidence that people who base their self-worth on money are likely to feel pressured to achieve financial success, which is tied to the quality of their relationships with others," she added.

The report was published April 9 in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

More information

For more on self-esteem, head to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.