Money does have the potential to enhance happiness, according to a recent NBC feature. A study unveiled in the PNAS journal entailed an intriguing setup: 200 individuals received a one-time payment of $10,000, courtesy of two undisclosed benefactors, and were asked to assess their happiness every month.
Here’s the twist: the beneficiaries had to spend the money in a mere three months. What emerged? Those who were granted the money expressed greater contentment than a reference group post their indulgent three-month period, and this heightened satisfaction sustained thereafter.
Notably, this sense of well-being was especially pronounced among those with lower incomes, while participants with incomes above a certain mark witnessed marginal or no increases in happiness.
While these findings might not seem revolutionary, they reinforce the concept that a financial boost, akin to a universal basic income, might indeed positively impact individuals.
Interestingly, when these participants initially enrolled in this “mystery experiment” curated by TED’s Chris Anderson in December 2020, they were unaware of its true nature.
The only prerequisites were being above 21 and proficient in English. A significant number were skeptical about the authenticity of the study until they verified the funds in their accounts, as highlighted by MarketWatch.
A comparative group of 100 individuals, who weren’t monetarily compensated, also provided monthly happiness ratings. However, the data offers a more layered picture. Participants with an annual family income surpassing $123,000 didn’t experience a marked uplift in happiness post the monetary gift.
The study encompassed participants from three economically challenged nations (Brazil, Indonesia, and Kenya) and three affluent countries (Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US).
Predictably, participants from economically disadvantaged nations reported a happiness surge threefold that of their counterparts from affluent countries, reflecting the disparity in buying power.
This research isn’t devoid of limitations, ranging from inherent biases in participant selection (they needed to reside in specific countries, use Twitter, and be fluent in English) to the short time frame of happiness evaluation.
Nevertheless, Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and a co-contributor to the study, remains optimistic that this experiment might inspire more affluent individuals to make similar gestures.