419 Cross-cultures Giving & Happiness

Research by Aknin, Lara B. Barrington-Leigh, C. P., Dunn, E. W., Helliwell, J. F., Burns, J., et al., & Norton, Michael I. (2013)

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, M.S.

How do you feel when you give money to charity? Prosocial spending is that behavior when people use their financial resources to help others. Research suggests that when people engage in prosocial spending,they feel positive emotions. Does prosocial spending create positive emotions worldwide?

Psychologists conducted three studies to examine this hypothesis. In one, 1300 participants did a survey in 136 countries. In two, 1000 participants from Canada, Uganda, and India wrote when they engaged in personal versus prosocial spending and their associated happiness. In three, 200participants from Canada and South Africa bought a “goody bag.” They could either keep it or give it to someone else. Afterwards they reported their happiness level.

Results? All studies showed individuals reported greater happiness when engaging in prosocial spending. Additionally, the results indicate that regardless of personal financial situations, those that gave were happier compared to those that did not.

We humans worldwide experience joy and happiness when helping others! Donate to a charity! Show you care. Help others. Giving will bring happiness!


Aknin, L. B., Barrington-Leigh, C. P., Dunn, E. W., Helliwell, J. F., Burns, J., Biswas-Diener, R., Kemeza, I., Nyende, P., Ashton-James, C. E., & Norton, M. I. (2013). Prosocial spending and well-being: Cross-cultural evidence for a psychological universal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(4), 635-652.

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