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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From wealth to well-being : spending money on others promotes happiness Aknin, Lara Beth


While previous research has examined the effect of income on happiness, we suggest that how people spend their money may be as important for their well-being as how much they earn. Specifically, we hypothesized that spending money on others may have a more positive impact on well-being than spending money on oneself. We found converging evidence for this hypothesis in a nationally representative survey (Study 1), a longitudinal study of windfall spending (Study 2), and an experimental study in which participants were randomly assigned to spend money on themselves or others (Study 3). We also found that people believe that spending on themselves, as opposed to others, will make them happier (Study 4) and that happier people were more likely to spend on others and experience higher happiness as result (Study 5). These results demonstrate that spending money on others may facilitate the translation of wealth into well-being.

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