Men are happiest when they outperform their parents, says new study
A new study conducted by researchers at Oxford University has found that men who do not surpass the achievements of their parents are more likely to feel depressed, lonely, or sad, reaching levels comparable to the effects of divorce.
In contrast, those who outperform their parents' qualifications report low levels of psychological stress.
The study used European Social Survey data from 52,773 people aged from 25 to 65 in 28 countries. Parents and their children were then divided by educational attainment and this information was compared to data on their psychological state taken from surveys from 2012 to 2014.
Researchers concluded that for men whose highest qualifications were GCSEs or equivalent and whose parents achieved a degree or similar were twice as likely to be among the top 10 percent most psychologically distressed, compared to those with similar achievements to their parents.
Sons who gained a degree and whose parents only attained GCSE level were 50 percent less likely to be psychologically distressed.
Interestingly, the same link between unhappiness and failing to match their parent's achievements was not present for women.
Lead researcher Alexi Gugushvili told The Times this may be because, “men are more likely than women to attribute success and failure by pointing to their own merits, abilities and effort rather than factors they have no control over.”
The full findings will be presented to the British Sociological Association at Northumbria University today.