Based on research by Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Adapted by Mara Rowcliffe, BS
Does money buy happiness?
According to psychologists Elizabeth Dunn Lara Aknin, and Michael Norton it depends on how you spend it. In their experiment, participants rated their happiness in the morning and then were given either $5 or $20 to spend by the end of the day. Half of the participants had the instructions to spend the money on a bill or gift for themselves. The other half was instructed to spend the money on a gift for someone else or to make a charitable donation. At the end of the day, participants called the rese archers to once again report their level of happiness.
The individuals who spent their money on someone else reported higher happiness levels than those who spent the money on themselves. In addition, the amount of money did not make a difference, just the way it was spent. In a second study, new participants chose which group they believed would bring more happiness, spending on themselves or someone else. The majority chose $20 over $5, and believed that spending it on themselves would make them happier. But they were incorrect!
Give it a try! As you prepare for the holidays, feel good about buying something for someone else!
Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness.
Science, 319 (5870), 1687-1688.