The most interesting fragment I read last night

…we find that those on the right (left) of the political spectrum adapt to status (income) but not to income (status).

Here is more.


Interesting indeed if the theory holds. I suspect there is more to it than the simple causation the blog writer presupposes.

I find (do not find) it easy to read articles applying standard
(non-standard) syntax. He might (might not) want to conform a bit more,
if he can (cannot) mildly compromise his self-stated deep commitment to
personal freedom

The paper by Di Tella and co-authors referred by Wilkinson in his post looks at the relationship between happiness and two determinants--income and status--using data from Germany and defining "status" by reference to the prestigious attached to jobs, not to relative income levels. The question is why to ignore power as a determinant of happiness. Indeed it is difficult to define power properly and identify its effect on happiness vis a vis income and status as defined in the paper, but as long as power is omitted from the statistical analysis, the results are at best very preliminary and provide no evidence of differences between right and left.

Right-wingers get off on money. Left-wingers get off on power. That's why I like right-wingers better.

Keith is correct. Taeyoung and Douglas--glass bead players. Keith--real world guy--and a very smart one at that.

Keith substituted status for power and that's not exactly analagous.

Liberals tend to be more enamored of status (e.g. - Nobel Prize winner, Chief Neurosurgeon, Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, etc.)

Do these people have power? In their fields, yes. Measured against a Larry Ellison, a Richard Branson, an Eric Schimdt? Not even remotely.

I think another way of saying this is that liberals are interested in occupational prestige/reputation where conservatives are interested in the cachet that comes with having tons of cash, no matter how it is acquired (plundering teachers' pension funds, embezzlement, ponzi schemes, etc.)

If you read the paper, you find that what they call adaptation is merely correlation between an income or status event and happiness over the next four years. The change is discounted in the sense of evaporating, but the differences are fascinating. Women, for example, wind up less happy than before they get more money. Right wingers don't behave like anyone else. They actually bounce up and down, as if their manic depressive cycle had been kindled by the event. I'm not actually sure this is adaptation in the naive use of the term. The authors are talking about correlation, there is no proposed mechanism and causality is speculative.

For a more complete, and most likely seriously flawed analysis, check out my overview of this paper at DailyKos ( It even has miserable Excel charts.

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