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Study: People Are Obsessed With Their Social Status

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Paul Hudson

Author and Wharton Marketing Professor Jonah Berger, takes a glimpse into what it takes for an idea to go viral in his upcoming book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Berger shares with us some highlights from a recent study with societies obsession with social status:

“A few years ago, students at Harvard University were asked to make a seemingly straightforward choice: which would they prefer, a job where they made $50,000 a year (option A) or one where they made $100,000 a year (option B)?

Seems like a no-brainer right? Everyone should take option B. But there was one catch. In option A, the students would get paid twice as much as others, who would only get $25,000.

In option B, they would get paid half as much as others, who would get $200,000. So option B would make the students more money overall, but they would be doing worse than others around them.

What did the majority of people choose? Option A. They preferred to do better than others, even if it meant getting less for themselves.”

Your happiness seems to be contingent upon how much more successful you are than your fellow workers. It’s not about what the money itself can buy you; it’s knowing that given the same opportunities, you were able to be more successful than those around you. It’s all about feeding your ego.

Paul Hudson | Elite. 

Paul Hudson

Paul Hudson

Staff Writer

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