Post by Samantha Braverman, Researcher for the Harris Poll
When I first read Adweek’s survey question: “Given a choice of the following, which one would you most want to be?”, with the given choices being richer, thinner, smarter or younger, I immediately thought: brilliant.
Immediately after that, I thought: is this a trick question?
I assumed, if you were smarter, maybe you could invent something, get a better job, or in some other way figure out how to become richer. If you were younger, maybe you could do the same – make different decisions earlier in life, go into a different field of work, etc, which could also result in making you richer. As a younger person, you could take school more seriously than you might have, which may not actually make you smarter, but it could certainly make you more well educated. In the same vein, if you were younger maybe you would also be thinner, before bad habits have fully taken hold. Or, if you were richer you could hire a personal trainer and a chef, which one would hope could make you thinner. As these rationales go on, the question becomes: does one answer trump the others?
Ultimately it’s a fun question to ponder and you could play it however you like. But, at the end of the day the one thing I decided that I most would want, is for “happier” to have been included in the options. As much as some people have financial stress that is burdensome, or are extremely dissatisfied with their weight or appearance, in my mind if you are happy—who cares? In the actual survey 43% of Americans, the largest percentage seen, said that they would choose to be richer. But, I wonder how the results would look if happier was also an option.
Does happiness trump all, or would people rationalize that money can buy that, too?