2012 September 27 Thursday
More Money And Higher Rank Mean Less Stress On Job

Those who make more are less stressed on the job.

Presumably because they are not as stressed about pay, the highest concentration of workers who said that nothing stressed them out on the job, 37%, were those making $100,000 or more.

Higher level leaders are less stressed.

A group of researchers from Stanford University and Harvard University found that higher-level leaders had less stress than non-leaders or lower-level leaders, upending a common perception that decision-makers experience more anxiety.

This all reminds me of my previous post: Why People Deny The Advantages Of More Money.

Other research I've read found that people who have more control of their work environment and responsibilities are less stressed. I've said before rise up, excel, advance. Really, being a lower level peon is no good. Become a highly ranked manager or a highly ranked technical professional. Heck, just be the top guy on an oil derrick. Or at least work in something where you can't get interrupted by emergency problems and sudden customer demands. Hard work properly pursued is the path to a lower stress and higher income life.

Your choices are up or down. You aren't going to stay still.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 September 27 10:12 PM  Human Nature Status

Mike M said at September 28, 2012 7:24 AM:

It was a survey and they found a correlation, but maybe the assumed causal direction is backwards. Instead of low paying jobs leading to more stress, maybe those who are able to reach the top do so because they can handle stress are better than those who remain on the bottom.

Now, your comment, "Your choices are up or down. You aren't going to stay still." is one of the points I made in the restaurant post, i.e. progress is inevitable. I think we both recognize that progress may result in an increase in the gap between the top and the bottom, our opinions may differ in that your implication seems to be that the bottom will be lower than it is now, while I can foresee everyone moving up (in terms of living standards), but that the top will move up more than the bottom. But as you note, how much one moves up is their choice. I do think that technology has permitted this widening gap between the top and the bottom.

Take for example the improvements communication as a result of technology. Centuries ago, entertainment and the dispersement of knowledge took place by direct word of mouth. A court jester or storyteller was not well paid. Subsequently, with written communication, ideas could be spread more widely and a single author could reach a wider audience and hence earn more in terms of "royalties" (or whatever you want to call his earnings per person reached). The advent of digital media has pushed this concept so far that a single entertainer/author can reach literally billions of people - something impossible centuries ago - and thus generate a much higher income. While some would decry this gap as "unfair", it is certainly the case that all parties are better off. Certainly, the author/entertainer has the income he desires and the purchaser of the goods/services has something he would not have had access to years ago when media was much less developed. Imagine if the only way you could see your favorite entertainer was to see him in person at a theater. Far fewer people would ever be able to see him and those that could see him might do so only once or twice in their lifetimes and at significant cost.

Mercer said at September 28, 2012 8:28 AM:

" control of their work environment and responsibilities are less stressed "

I think this description fits the self employed better than people in a high ranked position in a big organization.

James Bowery said at September 28, 2012 10:23 AM:

It would be fun get a video tape of you locked in a room with John Robb:

A part of current dysfunction is the skyrocketing amount of student debt thatís being accumulated.

It recently topped $1 trillion, and itís growing faster than ever. $300 billion was added in the last four years alone as kids across the US scrambled to gain entry into a shrinking middle class.

If that wasnít bad enough, nobody told these kids that the money they are borrowing to go to school isnít going to do them any good.

The cubicle jobs that provided entry into the middle class donít exist anymore and those that are, are on the endangered list. Why? The government and corporate bureaucracies that historically provided them are in a secular decline, with no bottom in sight.

For many of us, itís clear that a new economy is possible. An economy that is human scale and local. An economy thatís networked and makes sense.

...So, as the consumerized and financialized sham we currently have falls apart, weíre making the new opportunity a reality.

Weíre building a new economy based on networked resilient communities. Building it from the ground up.

A human-scale economy that can provide a future thatís prosperous and abundant for everyone that puts in the work necessary to build it, and resilient enough to withstand the inevitable disruptions of a turbulent era.

So, join me.

Join us on this journey.

Spread the word.

Dsos said at September 28, 2012 4:57 PM:

I am at the top of my organization and have moderate levels of stress. I think the missing variable is anxiety, not stress itself. My stress is caused by real problems, but I don't have the handicap so many others do of excessive worry and anxiety. I also don't really "feel" stress the same way as others, in the sense that it does not damage my performance. I also don't feel overwhelmed when faced with bad odds, and can rationally calculate risks without fear and follow through on plans when difficulties arise.

Where being at the top really helps isn't stress, but general feeling of well being and control. Being told what to do, where to be, when and what to do, is not something I experience regularly. This makes me a lot happier and in control of my life.

One way I know that I have very low levels of anxiety is when I've tried anti-anxiety medication, which many people greatly enjoy and can become addicted to (Xanax is the most famous) I just felt a little sleepy, and had no desire to take it again.

Wolf-Dog said at September 29, 2012 2:56 PM:

The reason might be that the highest salaries are probably earned by the most intelligent people who face very little competition. They have absolute certainty that they will surpass all other competitors. This makes them feel very relaxed even when they are trying to invent totally new things without any guarantee of success, because even during temporary failures they feel successful.

McNeil said at September 29, 2012 3:25 PM:

Mike M wrote: "progress is inevitable."

Future is inevitable. Progress is a different thing; a subjective one.

Now, the spread of knowledge is something positive, but the problem nowadays lies in what you consider to be "knowledge" and also if high quality entertainers, jesters or storytellers are less favored by the mass media than the bunch of dull clowns, whores and queers we continue to be forcefed day after day.

In other words, improvements in communication as a result of technology has not always resulted in the dispersement of knowledge, but also the dispersement of garbage.

MarkyMark said at September 29, 2012 3:47 PM:

I don't doubt that having some sort of control over your environment reduces your stress level. But there are some high ranking jobs that are clearly stressful - how many prime ministers and presidents take the job looking youthful and boyish and at the end of their 5 years have gone grey and look 15 years older? Same thing happens with law firm partners (at least where I'm from). Even as a partner in a law firm at the top of your game you are at beck and call of clients 24/7 and your job is only as safe as your ability to keep bringing in new work. I also wonder if sucessful people are less likely to admit to a pollster over the phone that they are stressed out which can be perceived as a weakness.

McNeil said at September 29, 2012 3:57 PM:

MarkyMark wrote: "how many prime ministers and presidents take the job looking youthful and boyish and at the end of their 5 years have gone grey and look 15 years older? Same thing happens with law firm"

I think that makes sense.

"I also wonder if sucessful people are less likely to admit to a pollster over the phone that they are stressed out which can be perceived as a weakness."

I also agree.

Mike M said at September 29, 2012 7:53 PM:

McNeil -

I can appreciate that some enviro-nazi types might *think* that our standard of living has always improved century to century, but by most people's definition of progress, it has been unstoppable.

Now, I can appreciate your point about the crap that passes for entertainment and knowledge today. However, the point I was making was that whatever entertainment/knowledge/etc that consumers want, providers now have the potential to reach exponentially more people today than they could centuries ago. Hence, they have the potential to earn vastly greater sums of money. Whether you want to call their product knowledge or entertainment or garbage matters little from that standpoint. But I do agree with you that the large majority of "stuff" being dispersed by various media is garbage.

smart2012 said at September 30, 2012 12:03 PM:

Its about control The more control you have over your life the happier you will be. Its really that simple.
You also have more time to focus on finding happiness.

narcer said at October 2, 2012 8:59 PM:

Sounds like only a minority of workers could ever be in such an ideal situation. The rest is still doomed.

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