There is robust evidence that higher income makes people evaluate their lives more favorably, but there is no consistent evidence on whether it makes people feel better. Analyzing data from five large surveys spanning 162 countries, we predicted and found the most comprehensive evidence to date that income reliably predicted greater positive self-regard emotions (e.g., pride) and lower negative self-regard emotions (e.g., anxiety).
In contrast, its relationships with other-regard emotions (e.g., gratitude, anger) and global emotions (e.g., happiness) were weaker in magnitude and difficult to replicate. In addition, income predicted higher (lower) levels of positive (negative) self-regard emotions about 10 years later, controlling for the same self-regard emotions at baseline. Sense of control mediated the relationships between income and both positive and negative self-regard emotions.
Income predicted self-regard emotions as strongly as it has been known to predict life evaluation. Hence, having more money makes people feel more proud, contented, and confident and less sad, afraid, and ashamed, but does not affect whether they feel grateful, caring, and angry.