Tendency to compare salaries among peers

Most of the people have a tendency to compare their salaries with their peers. However, this practice does not bring happiness. According to a survey, around 75% of the people are inclined to compare their incomes with others. But after comparing it, they were found to be unhappy and dissatisfied, especially if the people they compared their salaries with happened to be their friends and family. The worst hit, were the people, who were poor.

What comes first–comparison or unhappiness?

The survey included some 19,000 participants across Europe and it was conducted by Paris School of Economics. It was found that the people, who compared their salary on a regular basis, were the unhappy lots. The researchers wanted to know the actual scenario – they wanted to know, whether the people who compared their salaries were the people, who were already the pessimist ones or they became unhappy after the comparison.
The importance attached to the comparison

The survey data revealed that it depended upon the importance one attached to such comparisons. The more the importance attached, the lesser was the satisfaction with life. It was also linked to depression.

Signs that unhappiness preceded the comparison

As far as gender factor was concerned, there was no significant difference found between men and women as to how much inclination they have to compare their paychecks. It was also found that it did not matter much if they compared their salaries with their colleagues, however, the effect catapulted if they compared their salaries with their friends, especially the close ones. According to the survey, the tendency to compare salaries and incomes was found to be more in poorer countries and within those countries, poor people were more likely to compare salaries, than the richer ones.

The pessimistic outlook

According to the researchers, the practice of comparing the salary among the peers is not a very good practice. Though, sometimes it helps boost feelings about the future prospects, but most of the times this over the shoulder comparison does not make the world a happy place. It also nurtures the feeling of inequality. According to the researchers, its effect on the poor people was the most severe and it was quite surprising to them. Initially, they expected that this tendency would be more among the richer people, as it is always the source of happiness to compare your salary with less fortunate people.

Glass half empty

According to Professor Cooper, a psychology expert, the people who compared their paychecks most often were the people, who were mostly unsure of themselves. He also analyzed what preceded what in this context. Was it unhappiness that made them compare their salaries or the comparison bred unhappiness?

According to him, the comparison between friends, who were your friends, while at school or college, was the most disastrous. If you compare it among your colleagues, then it is fine to some degree and can be cited as a fairness issue, but when you compare the paychecks with your school and university pals, it’s a comparison of fortunes. It’s like belittling yourselves for who you are. It can also label you as incompetent and worthless.

Therefore according to Professor Cooper, we should avoid the tendency to compare our incomes, if we want to live a happy life. Comparisons are unfair because each one of us has different circumstances and completely different fortunes.