Happiness at work and colleagues' income

A person's happiness at work can depend on the incomes of their colleagues. This is the suggestion of new research from the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, which found that while the size of their own salary may affect their contentedness, so too might the belief that their earnings are inferior to those enjoyed by their peers.

The study has been published by Professor Eduardo Perez Asenjo of the learning institute's Economics Department, who found relative earnings can have a significant impact on job performance and happiness.

Professor Perez Asenjo explained individuals will be unhappier if the people they compare themselves to earn more than they do, adding: "I would find it healthier not to compare what we earn to what others earn and I think it would be better if these things didn't affect our happiness."

In addition, it was found that a person will often work more hours if their peers are taking home a higher wage.

Professor Gail Kinman from the University of Bedfordshire, a Chartered Psychologist, adds:

"The findings of this study concur with social comparison theory. This maintains that we determine our self worth based on how we compare ourselves with others. We may be generally happy with our salary but, if we learn that we earn less than others (especially people who we perceive to be similar to us in terms of gender, age, job level etc) we are likely to be less contented.  This new study extends these findings by suggesting that the effects of 'upward' social comparisons with the salary of others may have a negative impact on job performance."

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