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Making a difference matters: Impact unlocks the emotional benefits of prosocial spending

Listed author(s):
  • Aknin, Lara B.
  • Dunn, Elizabeth W.
  • Whillans, Ashley V.
  • Grant, Adam M.
  • Norton, Michael I.
Registered author(s):

    When does giving lead to happiness? Here, we present two studies demonstrating that the emotional benefits of spending money on others (prosocial spending) are unleashed when givers are aware of their positive impact. In Study 1, an experiment using real charitable appeals, giving more money to charity led to higher levels of happiness only when participants gave to causes that explained how these funds are used to make a difference in the life of a recipient. In Study 2, participants were asked to reflect upon a time they spent money on themselves or on others in a way that either had a positive impact or had no impact. Participants who recalled a time they spent on others that had a positive impact were happiest. Together, these results suggest that highlighting the impact of prosocial spending can increase the emotional rewards of giving.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268113000176
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

    Volume (Year): 88 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 90-95

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:88:y:2013:i:c:p:90-95
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.01.008
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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    1. Ed Diener & Robert Biswas-Diener, 2002. "Will Money Increase Subjective Well-Being?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 57(2), pages 119-169, February.
    2. Jenni, Karen E & Loewenstein, George, 1997. "Explaining the "Identifiable Victim Effect."," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 235-257, May-June.
    3. Grant, Adam M. & Campbell, Elizabeth M. & Chen, Grace & Cottone, Keenan & Lapedis, David & Lee, Karen, 2007. "Impact and the art of motivation maintenance: The effects of contact with beneficiaries on persistence behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 53-67, May.
    4. Small, Deborah A & Loewenstein, George, 2003. "Helping a Victim or Helping the Victim: Altruism and Identifiability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 5-16, January.
    5. Sonja Lyubomirsky & Heidi Lepper, 1999. "A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary Reliability and Construct Validation," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 137-155, February.
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