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Television commercials featuring perfect people could be making us miserable

It’s the question that has baffled economists for generations. Why doesn’t economic growth make us happier?

This used to be known as “Easterlin’s Paradox” after economist Richard Easterlin. He pointed out way back in the 1970s that the industrialized world’s miraculous leaps in per capita GDP were not being matched by much, if any, gains in average life satisfaction.

And the debate has raged ever since.

When people find jobs when economic growth picks up, they typically get happier. But when they switch on the TV and watch commercials? Not so much.

Some sociologists say we’re unhappy because of something called The Hedonic Treadmill, which means we quickly get bored with every improvement, so that last year’s amazing new product is this year’s old junk.

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