The human in us wants to know what others in our peer group earns. And its extremely common to bemoan your lack of personal income when you start comparing and contrasting. According to a new study, that could be a good thing, because a little salary envy could make you a happier person.
How so? A team of economists from the University of St Andrews School of Economics and Finance in UK found that those under the age of 45, get higher levels of satisfaction from seeing their earn more money than they do.
The reason? Because if they think they have similar chances of success, you tend to shift your perception of earning potential making you believe you can either equal or better their efforts in the future to help you earn more, making the years ahead look better, hence a happier you.
Professor Felix FitzRoy points out that this aspirational effect can also have downsides:
"What it does emphasise is how important aspirations are for young people," he said. "In a situation like current austerity, these aspirations are being systematically destroyed because young graduates are lucky to get jobs and if they do, they are usually below their qualifications.
"We can conclude that this is particularly damaging to their self-esteem and of course, we find in virtually all studies that unemployment has very damaging effects."
The study also found that the trend doesn't continue above the age of 45, and comparisons with high flyers in later life make people unhappy because didn't have time to catch up. But don't despair. Work your hardest and best. Rewards will come sooner or later.