Mendoza School of Business

Study: Ambitious people unhappier, don’t live as long

Published: March 12, 2012 / Author: Alex Crees

Bad news for people whose main goal in life is to get ahead: A new study found while ‘go-getters’ are more likely to attend prestigious universities and hold high-paying jobs, they are only slightly happier than their less-ambitious counterparts—and actually live shorter lives.

“Ambitious kids had higher educational attainment, attended highly esteemed universities, worked in more prestigious occupations, and earned more; so, it would seem that they are poised to ‘have it all,’” said lead researcher Timothy Judge, a management professor at the University of Notre Dame.

“However, ambition has a much weaker effect on life satisfaction and actually a negative impact on longevity,” he added.

For the study, Notre Dame researchers followed 717 ‘high-ability’ people over a period of decades – from college until retirement age. Late researcher Logan Terman identified these people after they tested high on measures of intelligence, and after Terman died, Judge continued his work.

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Topics: Mendoza