Empowering People through Behavioral Science

Purpose & Wealth

In exploring the human experience of purpose, the NPP project has identified several core themes that are particularly significant, and which provide a useful framework for organizing our activities.  This page displays the content from this website tagged for one of those themes: Purpose & Wealth.

Work on Purpose & Wealth is grounded in the question of how one’s pursuit and achievement of purpose is affected by wealth. How does one decide how much wealth to devote to different kinds of significant activities, and how might the investment of money or other resources in the self vs. others relate to the experience and fulfillment of purpose as well as to well-being and happiness? How does wealth relate to the pursuit of personal and prosocial goals? How are personal and prosocial goals affected when one has great wealth, compared to little wealth? See below for content related to our emerging insights.

Blog Posts More Blog Posts »

Mar 02 2016
Purpose & Wealth
Purpose & Well-Being
Purpose Across the Lifespan

The pain of uncertainty: Why people experience more physical pain during economical uncertainty

We all have experienced times of uncertainty about our finances, and we all know the anxiety and stress that economic uncertainty can bring. Whether we worry about keeping a job, or paying off debt, many of us have lost sleep over feeling economically unstable. But can economic uncertainty have even more far-reaching effects on us? Read here about the unexpected effects of economic uncertainty on our bodies, and why you might need more Advil if you ever lose your job.

By Janina Steinmetz
Jan 31 2016
Practical Tools for Purpose
Purpose & Wealth
Purpose & Well-Being

Finding happiness by choosing time over money

Life is full of decisions, and many of these involve tradeoffs between time and money. We all sometimes lean in one direction and sometimes in the other, sometimes choosing the more expensive direct flight over the cheaper one with a layover to save time, but sometimes choosing to work some extra hours for some extra cash. But what if you’re someone who routinely chooses time over money? Find out how your decisions about time and money can shape your happiness.

By Janina Steinmetz
Dec 12 2014
Purpose & Wealth
Purpose & Well-Being
Purpose Across the Lifespan

How Your Partner’s Personality Might Get You Promoted

Choosing the person that you will marry will be one of the most important and defining decisions you ever make. Your spouse is likely to be a key source of joy, support, purpose, and meaning that is unparalleled by any of your other relationships. While the type of person you marry will directly influence your personal life in countless ways, it is less clear how your choice of partner might affect your success at work. Recent research suggests that the impact of your spouse’s character traits extends well beyond the home — predicting a number of work related outcomes such as overall job satisfaction, income and even likelihood of promotion.

By Brittany Christian, Janina Steinmetz

See more related blogs in our blog section.


News More News »

Sep 29 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Behaviorists Show the U.S. How to Improve Government Operations

(New York Times) The federal government found a clever way to make a little extra money last summer.

In the News
Sep 25 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Using Science to Make Government Work Better

(Scientific American) On September 15th, President Obama issued an executive order that acknowledges something we have known for a long time: Human beings are not rational creatures who reliably fill out tax documents, enroll in savings programs, or apply for loans, as economic models assume they do. Instead, they systematically and predictably make decisions that run counter to their best interests, as centuries of observations suggest and behavioral science research now empirically confirms.

In the News
Sep 24 2015
Practical Tools for Purpose

Behavioural economics for better decisions

(ABC) Humans 'misbehave'—we're irrational, indecisive and passionate, yet conventional economics assumes that we will always act logically. Can using a more realistic understanding of human behaviour nudge us to change our way of thinking? 

In the News

See more related news in our news section.


Resources More Resources »

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Research Agendas More Research Agendas »

Purpose & Wealth
Purpose & Well-Being
FLIPPING THE PHILANTHROPY SWITCH: HARNESSING SITUATIONAL ATTRIBUTIONS TO INCREASE CHARITABLE GIVING

Principal Investigator: Elizabeth W. Dunn, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Under what conditions are wealthy individuals inspired to give? The objective of the proposed research is to understand the psychological factors that ‘flip the philanthropy switch,’ thereby transforming the financially successful entrepreneurs of today into the Warren Buffetts of tomorrow. Building on past research, we hypothesize that individuals will be more inclined to use their financial resources to benefit others if they view their own financial success as stemming from situational factors, such as being in the right place at the right time or receiving help from others. In addition, we expect that people who use their wealth to benefit others will experience a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Thus, the proposed research is poised to illuminate how subtle psychological factors can influence individuals’ decisions about whether to use their resources to help others, while tracking how these decisions shape individuals’ own pathways to purpose.

This project is funded by a subaward from the New Paths to Purpose project, as a result of our 2012 Request for Proposals

Purpose & Prosocial Behavior
Purpose & Wealth
THE PURPOSE OF WEALTH: HELPING MONEY GO TO OUR HEARTS, NOT TO OUR HEADS

Principal Investigator: Eugene M. Caruso, Project Co-Leader and Associate Professor of Behavioral Science

As proverbial wisdom warns, many people fail to anticipate the ways in which money may influence or change them, and thus in the pursuit of wealth they stumble into small-minded and petty patterns of behavior. Nevertheless, remarkable acts of altruism and benevolence among the wealthy have been recorded as long as human history itself, suggesting that there are ways in which people can manage the pursuit and possession of wealth to preserve, and perhaps actually accentuate some of our most charitable instincts. This research therefore aims to understand how, and under what conditions, exposure to money, wealth, and related resources can inspire individuals to embrace actions that transcend self-interest to reflect noble, compassionate, and benevolent purpose.

This project is a foundational agenda for the New Paths to Purpose Project

 
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