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Factors that Makes Lottery Winners Happier

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 If a group of individuals were asked whether they would be happier if they won the lottery, the vast majority would most likely respond with a resounding ‘yes,’ images emerging in their mind of various luxuries, freedom and security. Perhaps they are under the consensus that “money makes the world go round,” and they would not be wrong with its evident omnipresence. This paper presents a discussion on some elements of Seligman’s (2011) theory, including positive relationships, positive emotion, accomplishment and partially meaning. He claimed that implementing these well-being factors along with engagement equates to a prosperous life. I will attempt to prove that lottery winners are happier because they have more latitude to implement the discussed factors with their newly instated financial independence and, thus, well-being will be improved. In closing as Seligman (2011) stated, “What is wealth for? I believe it should be in the service of well-being” (p.194).

Seligman (2011) emphasised that whenever something positive occurs, people are featured somewhere in these moments. After all, the Homo sapiens is inherently social, relying on one another for survival as Cacioppo and Hawkley (2009) explained. Since civilisation depends on money for not only survival but also gratification, it could be challenged whether the greater the amount of money someone possesses, the less likely they are to engage in positive relationships, leading to consequent unhappiness. Bianchil and Vohs (2016) intimated that although deprived individuals were more social than the wealthy, their relationships may not be as emotionally rewarding or valuable and serve a practical purpose instead. On account of this, these may not be positive relationships really but more instrumental bonds, based on desperate or at least more dependent circumstances.

Contrarily, perhaps this affluence has made the lottery winner meaner, so those close may distance themselves, resulting in fewer positive relationships. As Stellar, Manzo, Kraus, and Keltner (2012) observed, compassion tends to be lower in the upper-class. Nevertheless, I stress that this evidence is not wholly valid for the case of lottery winners but fairly comparable. For instance, Hedenus (2011) noticed that the lottery winners studied conveyed a humble appreciation of their fortune. One could allege this is because they are not accustomed to this lifestyle compared to the upper-class.

This negative effect on relationships may also exist because of the financial imbalance between kith and kin. In favour of this, Gullestad (1992) stated that difficulties arise when someone lives with more freedom compared to their friends (as cited in Hedenus, 2011). Hedenus (2011) also observed participants’ concerns about others entering into relationships just for their money and this influence on their identity. This could escalate into suspicion, resulting in negative relationships or complete social avoidance. Conversely, this level of awareness could facilitate the individual in ensuring relationships preserve their identity, are healthy and, hence, more positive.

Seligman (2011) defined positive emotion as “what we feel: pleasure, rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort…” (p.23). It is the centrepiece of his model, as it features in nearly all of his well-being factors.

To begin, Piff and Moskowitz (2018) revealed that the upper-class expressed emotions of pride, contentment and amusement while love and compassion were higher in the lower-class. They suggested that because upper-class individuals are financially sustained, they can focus more on positive experiences. Consequently, the lottery winner may have more opportunity to acquire positive emotion from these events. Conversely, they claimed that the lower-class utilise love and compassion to form bonds and avoid the threat that more limited resources bring. However, their studies were measuring the two extremes: upper class and lower class without a midpoint group for comparison.

Continuing with positive experiences, Carter and Gilovich (2011) discovered that material purchases were not as pleasure-inducing as experiences were. Tackling this concept, the lottery winner would have more disposable income to create new memories, gain positive emotion and, therefore, possibly improve their well-being. Yet they may be at risk of becoming quickly habituated to positive emotion due to its ease in attainment and potential regularity. Lottery winners seem aware of this prospect, as Hedenus (2011) observed their concerns about the enjoyment of money used to support others diminishing.

Luthar, Small, and Ciciolla (2018) found a correlation between high socioeconomic status in early adulthood, heavy drug use and addiction. While this implies that the continuous enhancement of positive emotion through drug use is due to acclimation, perhaps lottery winners are characteristically prone to addiction. Xian, Gidden, Scherrer, Eisen, and Potenza (2013) found associations between gambling and frequent drug use. Although the lottery winner may be consistently gaining positive emotion, their health may be at risk, and acclimation may be present, leading to a decline in well-being.

Lastly, there is accomplishment, which Seligman (2011) claimed is very much independent, because people are driven to achieve even in the absence of his other well-being factors. Yet he also suggested that accomplishment may be in the pursuit of a higher cause. Thus, when discussing accomplishment, this will naturally digress into meaning. For example, Jolliffe (2016) reported that worldwide happiness was linked to donating money and is determined by nations with a higher quality of life.

There is also the question of whether lottery winners have more opportunity to accomplish, thereby increasing their well-being. Piff and Moskowitz (2018) stated that the upper-class have more freedom to concentrate on their goals in comparison to the lower-class. However, the circumstances of the upper-class differ considerably to that of lottery winners, as it is commonly accepted that the upper-class is defined by a lot more than just its wealth. In contrast, maybe there is the danger of them feeling unaccomplished and guilty, as the riches were acquired through pure luck. Moreover, Winkelmann, Oswald, and Powdthavee (2010) demonstrated that this undeserving feeling was encountered by lottery winners during the initial stages. Though, they further note that once they mentally overcome this feeling, well-being is improved following the gratification that money starts to evoke.

Von Kriegstein (2017) contended that feeling accomplished against all expectations can only be attained through competence or hard work and not by winning the lottery. Therefore, if the lottery winner remained in their occupation, this feeling of accomplishment and, thus, well-being may not only be maintained but enhanced by their financial security from the windfall. Furthermore, Highhouse, Zickar, and Yankelevich (2010) postulated that lottery winners who continued to work are actuated by much more than financial gain, including achievement, meaning and many other motivators.

To conclude, I return to my thesis in that lottery winners are happier and, thus, well-being is improved because of their increased latitude in implementing the addressed well-being factors. Bianchil and Vohs (2016) support my thesis in showing that the lottery winners’ opulence may enable the progression of higher quality relationships due to the increased flexibility and reduced instrumental need. The evidence against my thesis merely hints that certain attributes, such as suspicion, may restrict positive relationships. This awareness could actually aid self-development and ensure relationships do not disrupt this process. Piff and Moskowitz’s (2018) findings displayed the connection between positive emotion, positive experiences and wealth, supporting my thesis in that lottery winners may have more opportunity to experience positive emotion and prevent unwanted habituation. While lottery winners may be susceptible to addiction, their affluence could facilitate self-improvement, including high-quality rehabilitation care. I have showcased that meaning and accomplishment is derived from helping humanity, and wealthy individuals have more liberty to reach aspirations, thereupon, supporting my thesis. Although my research indicates that accomplishment is only attained through hard work, this obstacle may be overcome by the continuation of employment. If they are dissatisfied in their current position, perhaps this extended scope to accomplish will enable the development of skills in furtherance of a desirable career. In summation, the widely acknowledged and prolonged speculation surrounding the happiness of lottery winners, as well as the limited research directly focused on this group, implies that further investigation is required.

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Factors that Makes Lottery Winners Happier. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
“Factors that Makes Lottery Winners Happier.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
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