Happiness, Net Worth, and Materialism – Chicago News

Money in the Bank

Let’s explore some of the most interesting stories that have emerged from Chicago business schools this week.

How To Be Happy Without Earning More Booth Business Blog

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business recently published a lengthy profile that explores “hedonomics,” a term that professor Christopher K. Hsee appropriated to use as a “counterpart” to traditional economics, which studies how “to extract more happiness from the existing stuff.”

Hsee explains, “Our ancestors had to work to accumulate enough to survive. But now productivity is so high, we don’t need to work so hard for survival.”

In 2008, Hsee and his Booth compatriot Reid Hastie “redefined” the term from its original meaning as the “study of ways to interact with machines.” The article explains that “their version of hedonomics is premised on the idea that people don’t need more resources to be happier; they need to use existing resources differently,” such as a child who grows weary of wooden blocks they initially enjoyed. “Hedonomics suggests the child doesn’t need more blocks to be happy; she needs to change how she plays with those blocks.”

One component of hedonomics is the “hedonic treadmill,” coined by Northwestern’s Philip Brickman and Lehigh’s Donald T. Campbell, which refers to the psychoeconomic effect of what happens when it “takes more and more things to make people happy.”

According to the article, “The hedonic treadmill fires up because people misunderstand what will actually make them happy. [In fact], people gain more happiness when they satisfy their inherent rather than learned preferences—needs rather than wants.”

Hsee’s research could be useful in developing countries where the middle class continues to grow and more developed countries where the middle class has begun to diminish, particularly with the prospect of millions of people becoming idle due to automation looming in the background.

“You can make idle people happy by giving them a reason to ‘play with the existing blocks’ without accumulating more blocks.”

You can read more about hedonomics here.

Aric Rindfleisch’s Research Delves Into Reducing Materialism in Younger ConsumersGies School of Business Blog

University of Illinois Gies College of Business Professor of Business Administration and Marketing Aric Rindfleisch, who researches consumer values, recently published a paper in the Journal of Positive Psychology, which presents “strategies for reducing materialism in younger consumers.”

According to the Gies School of Business Blog, “The impact of gratitude on adolescent materialism and generosity” has led to two studies that offered “fostering gratitude” as an effective strategy to combat materialism in adolescents.

Image result for Aric Rindfleisch

Aric Rindfleisch, Gies College of Business Professor of Business Administration and Marketing

“In the first study, children and adolescents with a grateful disposition were less materialistic.” The second study found that ‘gratitude journals’ “significantly reduced materialism and also attenuated materialism’s negative effect on generosity.”

You can read more about Rindfleisch’s research here.

New Study Contradicts Notion That Electronic Health Records are Driving Doctors to QuitMendoza Ideas & News

Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business Professor of IT, Analytics, and Operations Corey Angst has coauthored a new study due for publication in Information Systems Research, which finds that electronic health records (EHRs) have “increased doctors’ tenure at hospitals.” This discovery stands in direct opposition to certain prominent articles, which assert that EHRs have caused doctors to retire.

“The Mobility of High Status Professionals after the Implementation of Enterprise Information Systems, which was coauthored with the University of Minnesota’s Brad Greenwood and McGill’s Kartik Ganju, examines how EHRs affect the “decision of physicians to continue practicing at their current hospital.”

Angst says, “Results suggest that when EHRs create benefits for doctors, such as reducing their workloads or preventing costly errors, their duration of practice increases significantly.”

“However, when technologies force doctors to change their routines, there is an obvious exodus, though it’s more pronounced with older doctors, especially specialists, and those who have been disrupted in the past by IT implementations,” he adds.

Angst notes that “doctors won’t be scared off as hospitals continue adopting new technologies — as long as they’re not too disruptive to routines.”

You can read more about the research here.


About the Author

Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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