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Research finds happiness comes from giving, not receiving, gifts

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The saying goes, “it is better to give than to receive,” and now there is some scientific evidence from Simon Fraser University that appears to back that up.

SFU psychology professor Lara Aknin says her research has found people given small amounts of money to spend on others have generally been happier than those given cash to spend on themselves.

And giving for the right reasons seems to make a difference.

“And in three different studies we find that when people reflect upon a time they’ve given, motivated by more altruistic or other focused reasons, the emotional rewards are greater than when people reflect upon a time they’ve given for more selfish or self-oriented reasons.”

Aknin says the finding seems to be true for toddlers too.

“Kids were asked to give either a treat that belonged to them or a treat that belonged initially to the experimenter. And low and behold, we found that kids smiled more when giving away their own treat than when giving away an identical treat that didn’t belong to them.”