Sentirse rico

¿Quién es más rico, usted o yo? Siempre y cuando ambos tengamos lo suficiente para vivir confortablemente, eso no debería importar demasiado. Muchos de nosotros tratamos de no dejar que importe. Pero algunas veces esas comparaciones nos corroen. En la era de la globalización, con un rápido crecimiento económico en algunas áreas y estancamiento en otras -y con la televisión e internet que nos permiten ver cómo viven los demás- estas comparaciones son un factor cada vez más importante en la economía mundial.

El extinto psicólogo social Leon Festinger argumentaba que las comparaciones interpersonales del éxito, cualesquiera que sean nuestros escrúpulos morales sobre ellas, constituyen una motivación humana fundamental -y por lo tanto irrefrenable- que está presente en toda sociedad y en todo grupo social. Festinger decía que para todo parámetro del éxito, ya sea la riqueza, las capacidades, o simplemente el encanto personal, la gente tiende a estar más preocupada por las comparaciones con aquéllos que frecuenta y que tienen un nivel de logros similar. No solemos preocuparnos por la gente que es mucho más exitosa o mucho menos exitosa. Los consideramos tan diferentes a nosotros que simplemente no nos importa.

El nuevo e importante libro del profesor de Harvard, Benjamin Friedman, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth detalla el significado que tienen las emociones generadas por estas comparaciones para la armonía social y el éxito de nuestras economías.

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