In this paper, I will analyze how money-making motivations are connected to subjective well-being. Money-making motivations are frequently distributed into realistic and unrealistic motivations, and that depends on the possibility of attaining them through making money. However, the distribution of motivations into realistic and unrealistic does not have to represent the absolute truth in every scientific research and real life scenario. Scientific research shows various conflicting findings on money-making motivations and their relationship with well-being. I will analyze the importance of cultural influences, value conflict, and associations with money in defining subjective well-being. Money-making motivations are an essential factor for understanding subjective well-being, but they alone are not sufficient to explain positive or negative outcomes between a single motivation and the perception of well-being.
Subjective Well-being and Money-making Motivations
According to scientific research, there is a strong correlation between materialism and subjective well-being (SWB), and three aspects of materialism are the most accountable for decreasing or increasing SWB (Dittmar, 2008). They are value conflicts, money-making motivations, and levels of income. Though several researchers could argue over the significance of each factor in determining the trajectory path of SWB, it is not possible to define any factor as superior to others because they are interdependent. Money-making motivations cannot be isolated from other factors because analyzing only motivations does not include important cultural values and background which define and interpret motivation formations. However, money-making motivations can be considered an essential factor for understanding SWB and its correlation to money.
In explaining SWB, the money-making motivations are divided into realistic and unrealistic categories. Scientific researchers explain that realistic motivations increase SWB and include financial security, success, worth, and pride while unrealistic motivations decrease SWB and include happiness, identity, and overcoming self-doubt (Dittmar, 2008). However, it is questionable if it is possible to divide motivations into realistic and unrealistic. A wide selection of research in consumer behavior, economics, and psychology has studied the correlation between materialism and SWB. A literature review indicates that all materialistic tendencies have a negative impact on SWB (Burroughs & Rindfleisch, 2002; Dittmar, 2008), so all motivations connected to materialism in the six-factor model, even the realistic motivations, should lower the SWB level.
The six-factor model is compatible with the Self-determination Theory (SDT) because SDT claims that needs are necessities which increase well-being while extrinsic desires are linked with increasing mental stress and lowering well-being. From the SDT perspective, money cannot buy happiness, and Dittmar (2008) agrees and points out substantial evidence that money cannot buy happiness. SDT is not limited to money because research by Burroughs and Rindfleisch (2002) found that acquisition of any material property is negatively correlated with SWB. However, that viewpoint does not have to be correct, and the correlation between money-making motivations and SWB should be observed through other perspectives.
Although research indicates that the six-factor model has apparently separated the money-making motivations into two absolute categories, the model is not completely compatible with the SDT. The SDT claims that all methods for achieving well-being through external approval and social appearance ultimately lower well-being rather than increase it (Dittmar, 2008). The six-factor model claims success, pride, and worth are in a positive correlation with SWB, but if success and pride rely on income, they also rely on external influences, so they should decrease SWB according to the SDT. That is why money-making motivations should not be studied apart from other determinants of SWB, such as value conflicts or other cultural influences.
Money as a determinant for SWB is influenced by several cultural influences. For example, Dittmar (2008) points out a study on UK and Croatian students that revealed more materialistic inclinations in UK students who were more subject to lower well-being in case of conflicts between material and community values. Based on this study, it is possible to make a conclusion that society defines the value of money and its effects on human psychology. Dittmar (2008) suggests that the former socialist political environment in Croatia created less material inclinations than in the UK which has a longer history of capitalism than Croatia. If learning theories suggest that cognitive patterns and paradigms form during childhood when the child is exposed to and accepts external ideas, that explains how people from different cultural backgrounds can perceive the value of money differently, form different motivations for making money, and form conflicting concepts about money.
Negative concepts associated with money are more likely the reason why people suffer from lower levels of SWB than particular money-making motivations. According to Freudian psychology, motivations are a form of camouflage for true actions. In other words, human behavior is more likely the opposite of the original motivation than it is in compliance with motivations (Furnham & Argyle, 1998). Money allows people to survive in modern society, and the motivation for survival by fulfilling needs and desires is the only original money-making motivation. All other associations with money are learned and inherited concepts through various social agents, and conflict between positive and negative associations with money is more likely to determine SWB than any single money-making motivation.
A common association with money in modern society is guilt (Furnham & Argyle, 1998). People need money to survive, and industrialized nations often create the paradigm that money is associated with personal well-being. However, individuals are influenced by other social agents at the same time. From a religious perspective, most religions promoted altruism, asceticism, and other schools of puritan values, and those same beliefs remain strong in modern society. When two opposing values meet, they create a psychological conflict that causes mental stress which progressively lowers SWB. It is also possible that particular motivations do not determine SWB outcomes, but the value conflict arising from the variety of concepts and paradigms about money could significantly influence the formation and realization of the money-making motivation and determine its effect on SWB.
Money-making motivations are obviously not the only factor involved in determining SWB because cross-cultural research suggests that different cultural backgrounds influence materialism and its impact on SWB. Another limitation to studies on the relationship between materialism and SWB is apparently the variety of individual attitudes towards materialism because the same cultural environment can provide confusing messages about money through different social agents. Although money-making motives are definitely one of the more important factors that determine SWB, it is not possible to separate them from other factors that help shape positive or negative influences of materialism on SWB. Therefore, it is not possible to observe money-making motivations isolated from other psychological factors, such as cultural values or individual values, and create a complete and valid conclusion on their impact on SWB.
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