WSJ May 2, 2011
If money can buy health and leisure and banish worry and toil, why is the effect of money on happiness so weak in studies? Simple: Most people are bad at spending, according to a paper published this month in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Happiness can be a squishy field of study, relying as it does on subjects to know when their inner sun is shining (or on brain scans and cortisol levels, which can be just as ambiguous). Gather enough hazy clues, however, and together they tell a reliable story. A trio of researchers -- Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia, Daniel Gilbert of Harvard and Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia -- has done just that in their study of studies. The evidence leads them to an eight-step prescription for shoppers seeking smiles.