What is the meaning of life? What happens after death? Do we have free will? What is truth? Is it easier to love or be loved? Can money buy happiness?
Very learned people have suggested that we will never answer any of these deep philosophical questions.
But that would be an untruth. Because right here, right now, we answer the philosophical quandary that has been plaguing you for years: Can money buy happiness? And we all know happiness is a tricky emotion.
Without Further Ado, the Answer Is
Yes, it can. With one caveat. It can to a certain extent.
And you were under the impression that money can’t buy happiness at all. But who can blame you? You were simply following years of prevailing wisdom.
How Can Money Buy Happiness (To an Extent)
Recent research findings between money and happiness appears to run counter to the many decades of research that show a poor relationship between money and happiness.
These recent findings were published in a paper titled Money Buys Happiness When Spending Fits Our Personality by Sandra C. Matz from the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and Joe J. Gladstone and David Stillwell from the Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
Matz, Gladstone, and Stillwell’s findings suggest that money can increase happiness, but only if the money is spent a certain way.
The study examined more than 76,000 bank-transaction records. Researchers discovered that individuals spend more money on products that match their personality.
When people spent money on things that matched their personality, they reported higher levels of life satisfaction.
The Personality Traits
What does it mean that the study found higher levels of life satisfaction when people spent money on things that matched their personality?
The study divided personalities into five categories: openness to experience; conscientiousness; extraversion; agreeableness; and neuroticism.
It then divided purchases into 59 categories.
Once each category was devised, the researchers evaluated which type of personality spent money on which type of purchase category.
Here is an example of personality types and what each type least prefers to purchase (Low) and what each personality type prefers most (High) to purchase:
Personality Types Low High
Openness Traffic fines, mortgages Entertainment
Conscientiousness Gambling, toys, and hobbies Home insurance, health
Extraversion Home insurance Entertainment, travel
Agreeableness Traffic fines, gambling Charities, pets
Neuroticism Stationery, hotels Traffic fines, gambling
As first hypothesized, the fit between the purchaser’s personality type and the type of purchases was found to be a significant predictor of life satisfaction.
Participants who purchase products that align closely to their personalities reported higher life satisfaction.
To an Extent
OK, so we know that researchers found that people who spent money on purchases that matched their personality were happier. That is what “to an extent” means. In other words, money can influence your life satisfaction, but it still can’t buy you love.
So purchase products that match your personality, but balance this realization with an oldie but goody from Scientific American, “Happiness is a choice. We can choose to become never-satisfied janitors of our possessions, or we can use our money in ways that improve our worlds and, as a bonus, supply us with genuine and lasting well-being.”
Image Credit: Shutterstock