What happens to a person’s emotional life after winning the lottery, literally or metaphorically?
In 1978, a trio of researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts attempted to answer this by asking two very disparate groups about the happiness in their lives: recent winners of the Illinois State Lottery — whose prizes ranged from $50,000 to $1 million — and recent victims of catastrophic accidents, who were now paraplegic or quadriplegic. In interviews with the experimenters, the two groups were asked, among other things, to rate the amount of pleasure they got from everyday activities: small but enjoyable things like chatting with a friend, watching TV, eating breakfast, laughing at a joke, or receiving a compliment. When the researchers analyzed their results, they found that the recent accident victims reported gaining more happiness from these everyday pleasures than the lottery winners.
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