Zeroing in on the Dark Side of the American Dream: A Closer Look at the Negative Consequences of the Goal for Financial Success

  • Nickerson C
  • Schwarz N
  • Diener E
 et al. 
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Recent research has demonstrated that aspiring to the American Dream of financial success has negative consequences for various aspects of psychological well-being. The present longitudinal study examining the relation between the goal for financial success, attainment of that goal, and satisfaction with various life domains found that the negative impact of the goal for financial success on overall life satisfaction diminished as household income increased. The negative consequences of the goal for financial success seemed to be limited to those specific life domains that either concerned relationships with other people or involved income-producing activities, such as one's job; satisfactions with two of those life domains, however, were among the strongest predictors of overall life satisfaction in this sample of well-educated respondents in their late 30s. The negative consequences were particularly severe for the domain of family life; the stronger the goal for financial success, the lower the satisfaction with family life, regardless of household income.

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