Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Happy money: How prosocial spending improves happiness – and the bottom line

Wed, February 12, 2014 | CBA 3.202 Legacy Room, McCombs School of Business

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Cognitive Science Area Meeting

Speaker: Michael Norton, Harvard Business School

Can money make you happy? Our research suggests that it can – if you give it away. We show that encouraging people to spend on others – for example, by giving them $20 in the morning and asking them to give it away by the end of the day – makes people happier than spending on themselves. In addition, the positive impact of behaving charitably can improve organizational health. When we gave employees in two organizations “prosocial incentives” (bonuses given to charity or spent on co-workers) rather than standard incentives (bonuses for themselves), both employee satisfaction and job performance improved dramatically. I will discuss how these findings change the way organizations should think about incentivizing employees – and how we should think about spending our own money.


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