Money can’t buy happiness. Or can it? That’s what new research says.
Research published via PNAs demonstrated something that our society has debated for several years. The experiment consisted in giving 200 people $10,000 (which was handed out by wealthy anonymous donors).
The participants were asked to rate their happiness every month. However, the experiment required them to spend the granted sum in only three months.
The experiment had a control group, which didn’t receive the same money as their counterparts. According to the results, people who received the cash had “more happiness” after those three months, all of it based on their incomes. Furthermore, their happiness remained at such high levels after the period had ended.
People with lower incomes would have a higher level of perceived happiness. However, it was different for people with higher salaries. Some participants didn’t even experience a change in their mood.
While the result isn’t news for many people, it demonstrates that a mere “cash injection” could contribute to people’s happiness during a certain period.
TED’s Chris Anderson organized the experiment. The participants didn’t know that they were part of it, as they signed up for a “mystery experiment” without clear information. The study took place in December 2020, and the participants had to be older than 21 and speak English.
According to the report, a great part of the participants didn’t believe the experiment was, indeed, real until the money was transferred to their bank accounts, according to a report published via MarketWatch.
A control group of 100 individuals didn’t receive the same money but were asked to rate their happiness as well during the same period.
While the experiment suggested what most people believed to be true, there are some nuances to take into account. Some participants have an income higher than $123,000, and after receiving the gift, their levels of happiness barely changed.
The people selected came from Brazil, Indonesia, and Kenya, three low-income countries, and Australia, Canada, the UK, and the USA, four high-income countries.
People from low-income countries experienced a considerable change in their happiness compared to people who came from high-income countries.
Still, the study has certain limits, such as being able to speak English or perhaps “measuring” the happiness of the participants over a short period. Plus, there were selection biases implied.
Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor and co-author of the research, hopes the experiment inspires other donors.
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