Trying to keep up with Joneses? Why is having “enough” never quite enough for those of us living in the “rat race” of urban ideals? In an interesting new study of how money motivates, brought to us by the University of Bonn, researchers discovered that humans don’t just want “more”—we want more in comparison to others. This relative sense of “more” appears to play a much larger role in motivation that previously suspected.
These findings support previous research by Andrew Oswald of England's Warwick University and David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College who found that even if our own incomes are rising, we tend to become less happy if the incomes of others are increasing more in relation to ours.
More at the link above.
This is important, I think. If you think about it, many of the poorest people in America have lives comparable to that of relatively high status people in poorer countries and in the past. We judge our success in relative, not absolute terms, by how much we are getting "ahead" of others. Success and happiness seems to be founded so much on greed and a desire to control others.