Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Money Buys Happiness When You Spend On Others, Study Shows

Date:
March 21, 2008
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Researchers have found that it's possible to buy happiness after all: when you spend money on others. Employees were given a small amount of money and instructed to either spend it on themselves or others. What affected the employees' happiness was not so much the size of the bonus but how they spent it.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Harvard Business School have found that it's possible to buy happiness after all: when you spend money on others.

Related Articles


In a series of studies, UBC Asst. Prof. Elizabeth Dunn found that individuals report significantly greater happiness if they spend money "pro-socially" -- that is on gifts for others or charitable donations -- rather than spending on themselves. Her findings will appear in the March 21 edition of the journal Science.

"We wanted to test our theory that how people spend their money is at least as important as how much money they earn," says Dunn, who teaches in the UBC Dept. of Psychology and is lead author of the study.

Her co-authors are UBC master's student Lara Aknin and Michael Norton, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School.

The researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of more than 630 Americans, of whom 55 per cent were female. They asked participants to: rate their general happiness; report their annual income; and provide a breakdown of their monthly spending, including bills, gifts for themselves, gifts for others and donations to charity.

"Regardless of how much income each person made," says Dunn, "those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not "

The study also measured the happiness levels of employees at a firm in Boston before and after they received their profit-sharing bonus, which ranged between $3,000 and $8,000.

What affected the employees' happiness, says Dunn, was not so much the size of the bonus but how they spent it.

The employees who devoted more of their bonus to gifts for others or toward charity consistently reported greater benefits than employees who simply spent money on their own needs.

In another experiment, the researchers gave participants a $5 or $20 bill, asking them to spend the money by 5 p.m. that day. Half the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves, and half were assigned to spend the money on others. Participants who spent the windfall on others reported feeling happier at the end of the day than those who spent the money on themselves.

"These findings suggest that very minor alterations in spending allocations -- as little as $5 -- may be enough to produce real gains in happiness on a given day," says Dunn.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Money Buys Happiness When You Spend On Others, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080320150034.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2008, March 21). Money Buys Happiness When You Spend On Others, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080320150034.htm
University of British Columbia. "Money Buys Happiness When You Spend On Others, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080320150034.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins