Short on time?

Get essay writing help

Prosocial Behaviour Increases Happiness

Words: 1365
Pages: 3
This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Do you have some spare change or extra time on your hands? If so, deciding to spend it on someone else might make you happier than spending it on yourself. The following literature review addresses that topic: the effects of prosocial behavior on people’s happiness in light of three scientific articles. Simply put, the first article focusses on how spending money on others promotes happiness; the second shows that spending money on strong social ties increases happiness more; in the last article, the emphasis lies on the reciprocity of prosocial behavior and positive affect (PA) in daily life. So, do prosocial behaviors increase happiness? This is a relevant topic worth further exploration, as it can affect and benefit people in their daily lives.

Each article has a standpoint – a line of argument. The first article by Dunn, Aknin, & Norton (2008) argues that spending money on others may have a more positive effect on happiness than spending money on oneself. The second research article claims that people would be happier spending money on strong social ties rather than on weak social ties (Aknin, Sandstrom, Dunn, & Norton, 2011). Lastly, the research article by Snippe, Jeronimus, Aan Het Rot, Bos, de Jonge, & Wichers (2017) predicts that prosocial behavior and positive moods reinforce each other in daily life, and that the association between prosocial behavior and positive affect (PA) is moderated by extraversion and neuroticism.

When it comes to the general argumentation, a subtle progression is visible in the three articles. The first article (Dunn et al., 2008) places the topic in a very shallow context, saying that generally, if people spend money on others, it makes them happier. The second article (Aknin et al., 2011) differs from the first in the way that it focusses on the target the money is spent on. For example, whether the target is a friend (strong social tie) or an acquaintance (weak social tie) has an impact on happiness as well. In a new light, the third article (Snippe et al., 2017) not only focusses on prosocial spending, but on prosocial behaviors in general, and does not place much weight on the recipient of the prosocial act. Instead, its focus is on the reciprocity of prosocial behavior and PA, and if this may be moderated by extraversion (sociability and positive emotions) and neuroticism (negative emotions). The second article (Aknin et al., 2011) appears to shed more light on the first article by specifying the target of the prosocial act; but the third article (Snippe et al., 2017) opens a whole new door and looks at the daily effects of prosocial behaviors and if they may be linked to certain personality traits – extraversion and neuroticism.

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

As in the argumentation, the articles differ in their methodology as well. Each study sampled their participants differently, leading to question the external validity of each study. The article by Dunn, Aknin & Norton (2008) combines three different designs to discuss the effect of spending money on others. The correlational study has a nationally representative sample of 632 Americans – which as stated, is representative. The longitudinal study includes only 16 employees (the company and city are unknown), but one can assume that in most any company, employees experiencing a windfall may act similarly to those used in the study. For the experiment it is said that 46 people were sampled, but how they were sampled is unknown – this leads to some uncertainty as to how representative the sample really is. The participants in the study by Aknin, Sandstrom, Dunn & Norton (2011) were approached on the university campus, and after providing written consent, they had to recall the last time they had spent money on either a strong social tie or a weak one, and then reported their affect levels on the experience. As the sample only includes students from one university, it cannot be considered generalizable to the population – it may perhaps only represent the population of students. In the study by Snippe, Jeronimus, Aan Het Rot, Bos, de Jonge & Wichers (2017), a large group from the Dutch population was sampled by means of crowdsourcing. Participants had to monitor their feelings, behaviors, thoughts and activities electronically three times a day for 30 consecutive days. Neuroticism and extraversion were assessed separately. It must be said that the mean age of the participants was 41 years and the majority was female, in a romantic relationship and highly educated. This poses a threat to external validity, as the results are not generalizable to the entire Dutch population, but rather to middle-aged, educated women.

Each study has its limitation too. A common limitation faced by the general population is that they fail to see the benefits of prosocial behaviors; thus, it may be central to strive towards translating national wealth into national happiness by promoting more prosocial behaviors (Dunn et al., 2008). This idea is insightful, but can be considered a very challenging, long-term endeavor. Nevertheless, it is something people could strive towards as it will benefit both the person exhibiting the friendly gesture, as well as the person receiving it. According to Aknin, Sandstrom, Dunn & Norton (2011), their study’s design has a simultaneous strength and limitation in that the participants did not take part in a new spending endeavor, but instead reported only on a past experience. This can be considered a strength, as it is a so-called ‘reminiscence-based methodology’, that highlights the importance of remembering (Aknin et al., 2011). The limitation is that it may lack in the immediate emotional response caused by the new spending experience. To avoid this, the researchers could assign participants to a spending task directly after having to recall an old one – that way both a remembered experience and a present experience have been collected and can be used in comparison. As previously mentioned, a flaw in the study by Snippe, Jeronimus, Aan Het Rot, Bos, de Jonge & Wichers (2017) is the concern about its external validity, as the majority of participants is female, in a romantic relationship and highly educated. This could be rectified by conducting a replication study using participants from one or several different demographics of the population. This could function as a balancing of the scales and can make the study more externally valid.

Even though the articles state some limitations, the conclusions each of them confirms that prosocial behaviors increase happiness. All three research designs used in the first article (Dunn et al., 2008) produced conclusions in favor of the hypothesis that spending money on others rather than on oneself promotes happiness. The data from the second article (Aknin et al., 2011) concluded that spending money on people we know, rather than on acquaintances, leads to higher levels of happiness. Furthermore, there are two key findings in the third article (Snippe et al., 2017). The first revealed that prosocial behaviors and positive affect reinforce each other in daily life. This means that engaging in a prosocial act sustains emotional well-being, and in turn, positive moods may encourage more prosocial acts. The second key finding concluded that people higher on neuroticism experience a bigger effect of prosocial behavior on PA (Snippe et al., 2017). Extraversion, on the other hand, did not seem to moderate this effect. This finding also provides support that people experience more happiness from prosocial behaviors, but people higher on neuroticism have an even bigger effect size.

The articles display progression in their hypotheses and conclusions; nonetheless, the third research article (Snippe et al., 2017) differs from the first two, as its focus is on the reciprocity of prosocial behavior and positive affect in daily life more than on prosocial spending towards others in general. The articles do not have very strong external validity and they are not without limitations either. Nonetheless, in conclusion, the fact that prosocial behaviors increase happiness is supported by all three scientific articles. We experience an increased level of happiness after engaging in prosocial behaviors, especially if they are directed towards family members or friends rather than co-workers or acquaintances. More specifically, prosocial behavior and positive mood levels reinforce each other in daily life – and this is especially effective for people higher on neuroticism.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

Prosocial Behaviour Increases Happiness. (2023, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from
“Prosocial Behaviour Increases Happiness.” Edubirdie, 08 Sept. 2023,
Prosocial Behaviour Increases Happiness. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2023].
Prosocial Behaviour Increases Happiness [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 08 [cited 2023 Dec 5]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.