Money: People tend to have bigger social circles after winning the lottery, study finds 


Money really CAN buy you friends! People tend to have bigger social circles after winning the lottery, study finds

  • A Vietnam National University expert studied the impact of lottery winnings
  • He used data from a 2015 household survey of 5,000 people from Vietnam
  • This included information on the size and nature of respondent’s social circles
  • Analysis found lottery winners usually gain more long-term, non-work friends 
  • The study found that an income increase of $5,000 is enough to ‘buy’ a friend

Money — as the old adage goes — may not buy you happiness, but apparently it can buy you new friends, a study of lottery winners has concluded.

An expert from Vietnam National University studied the impact of lottery winnings on the social circles of 5,000 people across five Vietnamese cities and provinces.

He found that, after receiving such a so-called ‘income shock’, people tended to acquire more long-term friends and those made outside of work settings.

The expert said that, using lottery winnings, people are able to increase their consumption on social activities — allowing people to make new long-term friends.

Money — as the old adage goes — may not buy you happiness, but apparently it can buy you new friends, a study of lottery winners has concluded

Money — as the old adage goes — may not buy you happiness, but apparently it can buy you new friends, a study of lottery winners has concluded

KEEPING UP WITH THE LOTTERY WINNERS 

Another study — this one from labour economist Peter Kuhn of the University of California, Santa Barbara and colleagues — looked at the impact on the neighbours of winners in the  Dutch Postal Code Lottery (PCL).

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The team found that recipients of the lottery typically spent their money on ‘cars and other durables’ — and this appears to have knock-on effects.

There are ‘substantial social effects of lottery winnings,’ the team wrote.

‘PCL nonparticipants who live next door to winners have significantly higher levels of car consumption than other nonparticipants,’ they noted. 

The study was undertaken by development economist Nguyen Viet Cuong of the Vietnam National University in Hanoi.

Data for the study was sourced from Vietnam’s 2015 Household Registration System Survey.

This, among other information, asked respondents about their numbers of friends, how many of whom are co-workers and how much they spend socialising.

The survey also collected information on household expenditures on lottery tickets, numbers of lottery wins and the associated cash prizes.

Surveys were undertaken in five cities and provinces — Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang, Binh Duong and Dak Nong — and provided locally representative samples. 

‘We find a positive effect from lottery winnings on the number of friends,’ Dr Cuong wrote in his paper.

‘People tend to increase the number of their non-colleague and long-term friends, rather than the number of friends among colleagues or new friends.’

‘Our estimate implies that the income shock needed to purchase one additional friend is nearly 5,000 USD.’

Data for the study was sourced from Vietnam's 2015 Household Registration System Survey — which collected information on both social circles and household expenditures on lottery tickets, numbers of lottery wins and the associated cash prizes. Pictured: lottery balls

Data for the study was sourced from Vietnam’s 2015 Household Registration System Survey — which collected information on both social circles and household expenditures on lottery tickets, numbers of lottery wins and the associated cash prizes. Pictured: lottery balls

Future research, Dr Cuong suggested, might explore the impact of a ‘negative’ income shock — such as a large unexpected expense or a pay cut — on the size of one’s social circle.

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‘A negative income shock, which is also common, may not necessarily reduce the number of friends,’ Dr Cuong speculated.

A negative income shock leads to a decrease in consumption, and possibly depression,’ he added.

‘Studies suggest that friendships can mitigate depression. If so, a negative income shock may increase contacts with friends and relatives.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal European Economic Review.

WHY DO FRIENDS HAVE SIMILAR BRAIN SIGNALS?

A new study by researchers at Dartmouth College has found that friends are ‘exceptionally’ similar to each other in how they perceive and respond to the world around them.

The findings revealed that similar neural responses are strongest among friends, and this pattern appeared to manifest across brain regions involved in emotional responding, directing one’s attention and high-level reasoning.  

Even when the researchers controlled for variables, including left-handed- or right-handedness, age, gender, ethnicity, and nationality, the similarity in neural activity among friends was still evident. 

This similarity in neural response decreases with increasing distance in real-world social networks. 

The team, based at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, studied the friendships and social ties of nearly 280 graduate students. 42 of the students were then linked to an fMRI scanner, which measures brain activity using blood flow, while they watched videos on everything from politics and science to comedy and music

The team, based at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, studied the friendships and social ties of nearly 280 graduate students. 42 of the students were then linked to an fMRI scanner, which measures brain activity using blood flow, while they watched videos on everything from politics and science to comedy and music

The researchers found that you can predict who people are friends with just by looking at how their brains respond to video clips.

Friends had the most similar neural activity patterns, followed by friends-of-friends who, in turn, had more similar neural activity than people three degrees removed (friends-of-friends-of-friends).

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The team also found that fMRI response similarities could be used to predict not only if a pair were friends but also the social distance between the two.  

This phenomenon may be due to the fact that individuals tend to befriend others who are similar to them, and similarities among friends may reflect deeper similarities in how we perceive, interpret, and respond to the world.  

For the study, the researchers built on their earlier work, which found that as soon as you see someone you know, your brain immediately tells you how important or influential they are and the position they hold in your social network.



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