Putting the “Social” in Prosocial Spending: Interpersonal Giving Promotes Happiness

Michael Norton, Harvard Business School, USA
Lara Aknin, University of British Columbia, Canada
Elizabeth Dunn, University of British Columbia, Canada
Recent research has demonstrated the positive impact on well-being of spending money on others. We explore the impact of increasing the “social” in prosocial spending, hypothesizing that the benefits of such spending are amplified when giving takes place in an interpersonal context. In a field study in which we gave participants Starbucks gift cards, the benefits of having coffee with a friend were particularly pronounced when participants treated their friend to that coffee. In a dictator game, the amount of money given to receivers was associated with happiness for both givers and receivers only when offers were made face-to-face.
[ to cite ]:
Michael Norton, Lara Aknin, and Elizabeth Dunn (2010) ,"Putting the “Social” in Prosocial Spending: Interpersonal Giving Promotes Happiness", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 36-36 .