Article | Current Directions in Psychological Science | 2014

Prosocial Spending and Happiness: Using Money to Benefit Others Pays Off

by Elizabeth W. Dunn, Lara B. Aknin and Michael I. Norton

Abstract

While a great deal of research has shown that people with more money are somewhat happier than people with less money, our research demonstrates that how people spend their money also matters for their happiness. In particular, both correlational and experimental studies show that people who spend money on others report greater happiness. The benefits of such prosocial spending emerge among adults around the world, and the warm glow of giving can be detected even in toddlers. These benefits are most likely to emerge when giving satisfies one or more core human needs (relatedness, competence, and autonomy). The rewards of prosocial spending are observable in both the brain and the body and can potentially be harnessed by organizations and governments.

Keywords: money; prosocial spending; happiness; well-being; Happiness; Money; Spending; Welfare or Wellbeing; Giving and Philanthropy;

Citation:

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 23, no. 1 (February 2014): 41–47.