Exploring the place of financial status in the good life: Income and meaning in life

Sarah J. Ward, Laura A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies examined the association between income and meaning in life (MIL). Study 1 (N = 781) demonstrated that income and other measures of financial status are positively associated with MIL and other aspects of well-being. The association between income and MIL was partially explained by autonomy, competence, and perceptions of control. Study 2 (N = 123) examined people’s forecasts of how financial status would affect their future well-being. Having a middle class or upper-middle class income in the future was expected to result in higher MIL, happiness, and need satisfaction than a life with a low income, showing that people perceive income as tied to meaning. These studies demonstrate how financial status can contribute to actual and expected MIL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-323
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • income
  • Meaning in life
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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