NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Lara B. Aknin

Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6
CANADA

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2017Social Capital and Prosocial Behaviour as Sources of Well-Being
with John F. Helliwell, Hugh Shiplett, Haifang Huang, Shun Wang: w23761
This paper surveys evidence documenting positive linkages among social capital, prosocial behaviour, and subjective well-being. Whether in the workplace, at home, in the community, or among nations, better and deeper social connections, and especially higher levels of trust are linked to higher subjective well-being, even beyond the effects flowing through higher incomes and better health. Prosocial behaviour is also shown to be a robust predictor of well-being in both correlational and experimental contexts. These two lines of research are connected, as prosocial acts are most likely to increase well-being when they are delivered in ways that improve social capital, and reflect intentional generosity free of either compulsion or personal gain. We infer that these deep links between prosoc...
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...

Published: Lara B. Aknin & Guy Mayraz & John F. Helliwell, 2017. "The emotional consequences of donation opportunities," The Journal of Positive Psychology, vol 12(2), pages 169-177.

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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