Can money buy you love?
Maybe, maybe not. But it turns out that it can buy happiness if you are spending it on someone else. This kind of spending, termed pro-social spending, has the capacity to make you feel better and feel happier than spending it on yourself. But don’t take my word for it. In a Science paper that couldn’t be more about the Christmas spirit, Dunn and Aknin of the University of British Columbia and Norton of the Harvard School of Business show that, “experimental results provide direct support for our causal argument that spending money on others promotes happiness more than spending money on oneself.”1
In the 2008 paper, “Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness”, the authors suggest that the problem people have with money is that they expect the wrong things from it and don’t know how to spend it best to make themselves happy. Whereas spending money on yourself does not increase happiness, “higher prosocial spending was associated with significantly greater happiness (β =0.11, P < 0.01).”
So, if you want to give yourself a treat this Christmas, go ahead and shop. Just shop for someone else, not yourself.
1. Science 21 March 2008: Vol. 319 no. 5870 pp. 1687-1688