Paradox of Affluence

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Paradox of Affluence

What researchers are referring to when they say paradox of affluence is that the difference between material well-being (happiness), and mental health well-being (happiness) is very difficult to decipher within American culture. Many Americans experience a certain level of confusion, or depression while trying to reach their desired level of happiness (well-being). There are more decisions for Americans to make regarding what to accumulate and what to leave behind. With so many choices, it is easy to assume that everything we choose will benefit us in achieving our desired level of well-being, leaving many with the “empty self” feeling (p. 101). When researching how happiness and wealth relate to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, there is a distinct correlation between them. The first three stages are; Physiological needs, the most basic needs, like water, food, sleep, and sex; Safety needs, which refer to a safe and secure environment, and Love and belongingness, which is the need to obtain and give affection .The next two are Esteem, which is the desire to obtain a level of self-worth, and Self-actualization, which is the final stage and refers to the state of self-fulfillment, which means a person can only become more happier as they progress in their lives (Feldman, 2010, p.248). The last two stages in the hierarchy are the two you will find that closely relate to the paradox of affluence. When a person reaches either level, they will find that materialistic items only provide the basic essentials, and not a sense of well-being, or happiness.


Baumgardner, S. R., Crothers, M. K. (2009). Positive psychology

Feldman, R. S. (2010). Psychology and Your
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