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Money Spent in the Right Places Promotes Happiness

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and SF State graduate Graham Hill, money spent in the right places promotes happiness. We all know that happiness, in turn, leads to better health.

The findings, scheduled for presentation at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting on Feb. 7, show us that buying a theater ticket or a night out for dinner leads to more happiness than merely buying possessions.

According to Dr. Howell, "These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the greatest well-being."

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Howell says, "We don't tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object." He calls making the right purchases "memory capital." Howell also explains the long held belief that money does buy happiness. "Maybe this belief has held because money is making some people happy some of the time, at least when they spend it on life experiences."

The conclusions of the study were obtained by asking a group of people to write down feelings they associated with recent spending. He found that people expressed more happiness when they spent money on activities that involved others, rather than on material purchases.

Spending money in the right places can promote enduring happiness. The study reinforces the value of social interaction, connectedness, and feelings of vitality for good mental and physical health.