Neurotic high earners are more likely to see a pay rise as a failure, according to research from a Midland university.
A working paper by economist Dr Eugenio Proto, from the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick, looked at how personality traits can affect the way people feel about their income in terms of life satisfaction.
He found evidence suggesting that neurotic people – described as those with a tendency to experience negative emotional states – can view a pay rise or an increase in income as a failure if it is not as much as they expected.
People with high levels of neuroticism have higher sensitivity to anger, hostility, or depression, the university said.
Dr Proto, who co-wrote the paper with Aldo Rustichini from the University of Minnesota, said: “Someone who has high levels of neuroticism will see an income increase as a measure of success.
“When they are on a lower income, a pay increase does satisfy them because they see that as an achievement.
“However, if they are already on a higher income they may not think the pay increase is as much as they were expecting. So they see this as a partial failure and it lowers their life satisfaction.
“These results suggest that we see money more as a device to measure our successes or failures rather than as a means to achieve more comfort.”
Dr Proto, who will present the research at the ESRC Research Methods Festival in July, used data from the British Household Panel Survey and the German Socioeconomic Panel.