Money does seem to buy some happiness--studies show that rich folks are a little more upbeat than the poor (ScienceNOW, 15 August 2005). Social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, wanted to find out what kind of spending really does make people happy. So she and colleagues surveyed 109 UBC students. Not surprisingly, most said they would be happier with $20 in their pocket than they would with $5. They also said they'd rather spend the money on themselves than on someone else. Wrong move. When Dunn's team gave 46 other students envelopes containing a either $5 bill or a $20 bill and told them how to spend it, those who shelled out on others (donating to charity or giving a gift) were happier at the end of the day than those who blew it on themselves (to pay a bill or indulge in a treat).
The Secret to Happiness? Giving, Elsa Youngsteadt ScienceNOW, Daily News 20 March 2008 http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/320/2