It’s January, it’s dreary, and tempting to dream of quick money fixes. We’re all about lots of free chances to win small, but is it worth spending your money for a chance to win big? Academic research on the subject reveals some surprising findings.
In 1978, researchers surveyed 22 lottery winners against 22 control group members (who had not won any money) and 29 people paralysed in accidents. The researchers asked them to rate their present happiness on a scale of 0 to 5 (0 being extremely unhappy and 5 being extremely happy). Accident victims were clearly the least happy (with an average happiness score of 2.96) but there was no statistically significant difference between winners and non-winners (4.00 compared to 3.82). Winners also reported less enjoyment compared to accident victims from “mundane pleasures” which the researchers defined to be enjoyable aspects of everyday life like chatting with a friend.
These findings are supported in a 2008 study concerning a postcode lottery in the Netherlands which involved a daily competition prize draw. That study found that people in winning postcodes did not report being happier six months after winning and that people in neighbouring postcodes that had not won reported similar happiness levels to winners.
The psychology behind becoming a millionaire overnight
This is an example of what psychologists have termed “hedonic adaption”:
“If all things are judged by the extent to which they depart from a baseline of past experience, gradually even the most positive events will cease to have impact as they themselves are absorbed into the new baseline against which further events are judged. As lottery winners become accustomed to the additional pleasures made possible by their new wealth, these pleasures should be experienced as less intense and should no longer contribute very much to their general level of happiness.”
What this means is that, winning a large cash prize competition allows you to purchase a lot of things that increase your happiness, but you eventually get accustomed to this and eventually your purchases, no matter how extravagant, don’t make you happier than non-winners.
“Some of us have our thermostat set to happy or sad. Others are somewhere in between,” the psychologist Robert Puff explains. “When we experience a major event our thermostat may temporarily swing up or down. But over time, it returns to its usual setting.”
What does this mean for FPL?
This is why I launched FPL (although I may not have been able to articulate it at the time). A free lottery draw which allows you to win money online daily, even a relatively small amount compared to other lotteries, would not be affected by “hedonic adaption”. A daily competition can even become part of your everyday life and become one of the “mundane pleasures” you gain enjoyment from. While giant jackpots can warp your happiness baseline, a daily free lottery can be just the right way to win money online without the drawbacks of other lotteries.
There you have it. FPL explained. Proud to be mundane.