The researchers from the University of Cambridge claim to have disproved a popular belief that money can’t buy happiness.
“In contrast to decades of research reporting surprisingly weak relationships between consumption and happiness, recent findings suggest that money can indeed increase happiness if it is spent the “right way” (e.g., on experiences or on other people),” says the study of Sandra C. Matz, Joe J. Gladstone and David Stillwell, published recently in Psychological Science journal.
The scientists found that individual differences play a central role in determining the “right” type of spending to increase well-being.
Nearly 60 spending categories were matched to five personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
Those who identified with a certain personality type tended to spend more on products that matched with that type, and the extent to which they did so was found to be highly correlated to their happiness. In short, spending money in the right way matters much more than just the amount that you spend or your total income.
For instance, someone who scored well for “agreeableness” would spend more on charities and pets, and the more they spent, the more likely they were to be happy.
Similarly, people considered to be “highly conscientious” spent about $175 more each year on health and fitness than those who had a poor correlation to those personality traits.
And extroverts preferred eating in pubs, entertainment and travel.
“We found that individuals spend more on products that match their personality, and that people whose purchases better match their personality report higher levels of life satisfaction,” states the research.
“In summary, when spending matches the buyer’s personality, it appears that money can indeed buy happiness,” the report concludes.