Gift giving

What you were told as a child may actually be true, at least when it comes to giving.  The age old adage that “it is better to give than receive” now has some scientific backing.  In a study published by Science Magazine, researchers examined how income effects happiness.

The researchers hypothesized that spending money on others rather than oneself would promote a greater level of happiness.  A number of studies were conducted, which included a survey of 632 people asked to rate their level of happiness and provide information relating to their income and how their money was spent (on bills, gifts for themselves and others and charity).  “The study provided initial evidence that how people spend their money may be as important for their happiness as how much money they earn and that spending money on others might represent a more effective route to happiness than spending money on oneself.”

Several other studies were done, which resulted in the similar outcomes.

“Although personal spending is of necessity and likely to exceed prosocial spending for most North Americans, our findings suggest that very minor alterations in spending allocations—as little as $5 in our final study—may be sufficient to produce nontrivial gains in happiness on a given day.”

Why, then, don’t people make these small changes?

In a final study, 109 people were asked whether spending money on themselves or others would make them happiest.  A majority of respondents wrongly assumed that spending more money on themselves would make them happier than spending on others.

So during this Christmas season, delight in the joy of giving, to family as well as strangers and those in need.  We’re all better off for it.

If you’re interested in the full study, please click below: