NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Lara B. Aknin

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Working Papers

November 2014The Emotional Consequences of Donation Opportunities
with Guy Mayraz, John F. Helliwell: w20696
Charities often circulate widespread donation appeals to garner support for campaigns, but what impact do these campaigns have on the well-being of individuals who choose to donate, those who choose not to donate, and the entire group exposed to the campaign? Here we investigate these questions by exploring the changes in affect reported by individuals who donate in response to a charitable request and those who do not. We also look at the change in affect reported by the entire sample to measure the net impact of the donation request. Results reveal that large donors experience hedonic boosts from their charitable actions, and the substantial fraction of large donors translates to a net positive influence on the well-being of the entire sample. Thus, under certain conditions, donation opp...
September 2010Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal
with Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, Elizabeth W. Dunn, John F. Helliwell, Robert Biswas-Diener, Imelda Kemeza, Paul Nyende, Claire E. Ashton-James, Michael I. Norton: w16415
This research provides the first support for a possible psychological universal: human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending). Analyzing survey data from 136 countries, we show that prosocial spending is consistently associated with greater happiness. To test for causality, we conduct experiments within two very different countries (Canada and Uganda) and show that spending money on others has a consistent, causal impact on happiness. In contrast to traditional economic thought--which places self-interest as the guiding principle of human motivation--our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic context...

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