It is commonly said that “money can’t buy you happiness” (or love, according to the Beatles), but is that true? Recent research suggests that under certain conditions, spending money on something might make you happier.
In a first study, British bank customers were given a Big Five personality measure, a measure of life satisfaction, and then their spending habits were examined. Extraverted individuals spent more money on activities like going out to a pub. Conscientious people spent more on “health and fitness” activities and products. In addition, if the participants bought products that matched their personalities, they reported higher life satisfaction.
In a second study, participants were assessed on the personality trait of extraversion-introversion, and then were offered one of two gift certificates: (1) for a bookstore, or (2) for a bar. In addition, participants completed measures of positive and negative affect. Extraverts who were given money for a night out at a bar were happier than if they were given money for a bookstore. The opposite was the case for introverts – they were happier with the bookstore gift certificate.
These studies suggest that it isn’t money, per se that leads to happiness, but how we spend it, and if the expenditures are consistent with our personalities and preferences.
Matz, S.C., Gladstone, J.J., & Stillwell, D. (2016). Money buys happiness when spending fits our personality. Psychological Science, (first published on-line, April 7, 2016.
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