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Technology and Health News > Monday, March-24-2008

Generosity pays for itself



According to an American study published in Science, spending on others is the secret of happiness.

The secret of happiness? Be generous. The claim is of Elizabeth Dunn of British Columbia University and Lara Aknin and Michael Norton of Harvard University, just published a study in Science, that people feel happiest when they spend for their loved ones or for purposes of charity.

The researchers examined a representative sample of the national population composed of more than 630 Americans, of whom 55 percent women. The survey took into account various factors, including the "degree of happiness" perceived by volunteers and the report of this subjective value with the annual income, the average monthly expenditure, the total number of "gifts" referred to themselves and the other, and donations to charities. It is found that, regardless of income, people who spend larger quantities of money for others and for themselves, feel happier.

In another experiment, the scientists gave the participants 5 or 20 US dollars to be spent: one-half of the volunteers had to use the money for himself, the other was to use it to make gifts to loved ones or charities. Again, those who made gifts for other people were on average happier than those who had to spend the money to themselves.

The study also measured the degree of happiness of employees of a company in Boston who received a bonus between three thousand and eight thousand dollars. As a further confirmation of previous results, employees who have invested this money into something that does not concern themselves only, were the happiest.

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