In a recent study published in the journal Science, and reported at Forbes.com, people are actually happier after giving money away than when they choose to spend it on themselves. The results of the study may seem surprising and counterintuitive. After all, don’t most of us, when asked what we would do with our lotto winnings, speak first about spending the money on ourselves and our immediate family, rather than how we will give it away?
Working with graduate student Lara B. Aknin and Harvard Business School assistant professor Michael I. Norton, Dunn began by asking 632 Americans from across the U.S. to rate their general level of happiness, as well as to report their income, how much they spent on themselves and how much they donated to charity.
As researchers sifted through the numbers, they found that happiness didn’t correlate with personal spending but, rather, with how much they gave away.