The Surprising Way You’re Compromising Happiness Through Your Spending

Despite What You Think, Giving Makes You Happier than Spending on Yourself

In a recent study,[1] college students were given $5 or $20 and told to spend it that day. Half were told to spend it on themselves, and half were told to spend it on others.

Which group do you think was happier by the end of the day?

People who were told about the study assumed that people who spent more money on themselves would be happier. They were dead wrong.

When the students reported back, the ones who gave money to others all reported being happier over the course of the day than the ones who spent money on themselves—regardless of the dollar amount.

This points to an interesting, false assumption that many people have: spending more money on yourself makes you happier. The truth is that we are happier giving it away. So if you are looking for happiness, the next time you think some purchase will improve your mood, consider helping someone else instead.

This article refers to research from:

[1] Dunn, Elizabeth W., Lara B. Aknin, and Michael I. Norton. “Prosocial Spending and Happiness: Using Money to Benefit Others Pays Off.” Current Directions in Psychological Science (forthcoming). nrs.harvard.edu

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Category: Psych

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