“High productivity and high earning rates brought about by modern technologies make it possible for people to work less and enjoy more, yet many continue to work assiduously to earn more.” Recent research by Christopher Hsee, Jiao Zhang, Cindy Cai, and Shirley Zhang shows that people tend to work the same amount despite incentives but also that good individual personal planning can slow down performance.
Many people enjoy their jobs and working hard is part of what makes their life fulfilling. Others recognsie that with uncertainty about the future, squirreling away money can allows you to handle the unexpected . Lastly, after the tax man has taken his bite, we can pass along wealth so someone or thing will derive a benefit from our labours. And that can create some incentive to keep working. But do we work more than we have too?
High productivity and high earning rates brought about by modern technologies make it possible for people to work less and enjoy more, yet many continue to work assiduously to earn more. Do people overearn—forgo leisure to work and earn beyond their needs? This question is understudied, partly because in real life, determining the right amount of earning and defining overearning are difficult. In this research, they introduced a minimalistic paradigm that allows researchers to study overearning in a controlled laboratory setting. Using this paradigm, researchers found that individuals do overearn, even at the cost of happiness, and that overearning is a result of mindless accumulation—a tendency to work and earn until feeling tired rather than until having enough. Supporting the mindless-accumulation notion, our results show, first, that individuals work about the same amount regardless of earning rates and hence are more likely to overearn when earning rates are high than when they are low, and second, that prompting individuals to consider the consequences of their earnings or denying them excessive earnings can disrupt mindless accumulation and enhance happiness.
- Christopher K. Hsee Booth School of Business, University of Chicago (E-mail: email@example.com)
- Jiao Zhang School of Business, University of Miami
- Cindy F. Cai Antai College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
- Shirley Zhang Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
- Christopher K. Hsee, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 5807 South Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org