To give or receive?

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: June 25th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat



iving really is better than receiving.

That’s the conclusion drawn by scientists who found that spending money on others brings people more happiness than spending it on themselves.

The authors of the study, published in the journal Science, tested three methods to see if there was a link between spending cash and a person’s well-being.

In the first test, they asked a representative sample of about six-hundred-and-thirty Americans to rate their happiness, report their annual income and estimate how much they spend on a typical month in different areas, including gifts to others and donations to charity.

The people who spent more money on gifts and charity reported being happier.

In the next test, the researchers asked sixteen employees to rate their happiness both before and after receiving profit-sharing from the company they worked for. Again, those who reported spending more on others said they were happier, no matter how large or small their bonus.

In the last test, forty-six people were given an envelope containing either five dollars or twenty dollars. Then they were assigned to spend the money either on personal items or on a gift for someone else, including a charitable donation.

Those who spent the money on others reported feeling happier than those who spent it on themselves.

Of course, in a time when the economy is in a downturn, it’s difficult to set aside money for charitable giving. But the researchers said even as little as five dollars may be enough to boost your mood.