Does Affluence Impoverish the Experience of Parenting

K. Kushlev, C.E. Ashton-James, E.W. Dunn

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Acquiring greater financial resources before having children seems like an intuitive strategy for people to enhance their well-being during parenthood. However, research suggests that affluence may activate an agentic orientation, propelling people to pursue personal goals and independence from others, creating a conflict with the communal nature of parenting. Coherence between one's goals and actions has been theorized to be essential for the experience of meaning in life. Thus, we hypothesized that affluence would be associated with a diminished sense of meaning during childcare. In Study 1, using the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM), we found that socioeconomic status (SES) was negatively related to the average sense of meaning parents reported across episodes of the day when they were taking care of their children. In Study 2, a reminder of wealth produced a parallel effect; when parents were exposed to a photograph of money, they reported a lower sense of meaning in life while spending time with their kids at a children's festival. These findings contribute to our understanding of the relationship between wealth and well-being by showing that affluence can compromise a central subjective benefit of parenting-a sense of meaning in life. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1318-1384
    JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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