Can money buy happiness?

Published: 27 Jun 2019

The study, titled: “Money Buys Happiness When Spending Fits Our Personality,” and published in Psychological Science journal, suggests that money can actually increase our levels of personal happiness and fulfilment, it just depends on how we spend it.

The findings came from an analysis of more than 76 000 bank transaction records from 625 individuals over a period of six months. It revealed that the way an individual spent their money had more of an effect on their happiness than the actual income they earned! There was a significant link between spending patterns and levels of happiness.

So, what type of spending increases our happiness?

According to the study, it’s not about the item purchased, it’s all about whether or not we spend in alignment with our values. At the beginning of the study, researchers got the participants to take a personality quiz, and then matched their transactions with the “big 5” personality traits such as artistic vs traditional, efficient vs easygoing, extroverted vs introverted, compassionate vs competitive, and sensitive vs calm. After each purchase, participants were asked to rate their emotional wellbeing.

The key to ‘buying’ happiness, seems, is to spend money on purchases that match your personality.

The happy purchase – a summary:

Extroverts vs introverts

Extroverts, it seems, would get a kick out of being able to spend more on entertainment and travel.

Introverts, by contrast, gained more pleasure from transactions such as paying their home insurance and accountant’s fees.

In another example (which proves why gift vouchers are never a good idea for a present!), extraverts were given a voucher for either a bar or a bookshop. No surprises here – the extroverts given the bookshop voucher were just as unhappy as the introverts given vouchers to freely spend at a bar.

Efficient vs easygoing

If you’re a more efficient and disciplined individual, spending more on gym fees or health supplements would make you happier than it would for the more easygoing types.The key takeaway from the study, it seems, is to know yourself and what you value.

If you’re an artistic, compassionate introvert, then donating to creative causes via kickstarter or online would make you happier than, say, participating in a group-run fund-raising  campaign in a highly visible way.

Know yourself, and the money you spend could, indeed, make you happy.

Was this article useful?

Share this article

Join the discussion

This text is shown only on a small screen.

This text is shown on small screens and up.

This text is shown only on a medium screen.

This text is shown on medium screens and up.

This text is shown only on a large screen.

This text is shown on large screens and up.

This text is shown only on an xlarge screen.

This text is shown on xlarge screens and up.