26th APS Annual Convention: Mark Your Calendar (San Francisco, CA, USA - May 22-25, 2014)


Counting Seconds and Cents: the Psychological Consequences of Time and Money

Friday, May 23, 2014, 4:00 PM - 5:20 PM
Golden Gate 8

Chair: Ashley V. Whillans
University of British Columbia, Canada

Time and money are two of life’s most precious resources. This session investigates promising insights into how time and money influence everyday decision making. Presenters will discuss the consequences of time and money on prosociality, and explore the relationship between money and well-being for American millionaires and Vanuatu villagers alike.

Time and money are two of life’s most precious resources. Despite the ubiquity and importance of these resources, many essential questions about time and money are just coming under the lens of psychological research. This symposium will present cutting-edge research on the psychological consequences of time and money, with an emphasis on how time and money impact prosociality and well-being. First, Donnelly will explore the relationship between wealth and well-being in a large sample of millionaires (N=2026). Donnelly’s research reveals that even among millionaires wealth is not associated with happiness—in part because millionaires expect requiring more money to obtain greater happiness. But can money buy happiness?

Aknin will present evidence to suggest that money can buy happiness when used to benefit others. Five experiments conducted in Canada, Uganda, India, South Africa and Vanuatu, support Aknin’s claim that the emotional benefits of prosocial spending constitute a psychological universal—leading to happiness for individuals around the world.

Building on research assessing the links between money and happiness, our symposium will shift its focus to prosociality. Despite being a class of activities that yield greater happiness, DeVoe will consider the question of why many people fail to spend more time engaged in such activities (e.g., volunteering). Using both field and experimental studies, DeVoe’s research shows that such activities are especially difficult to justify when people are thinking about the value of their time in monetary terms. Across five studies, exposure to common accounting and pay practices that press individuals to think about their time in monetary terms are associated with diminished time spent on volunteer activities and these effects are greatest among individuals who place a high value on the acquisition of money.

Rounding out the symposium, Whillans will show that thinking about time as money directly undermines communitarian behaviors critical for protecting the environment. Three studies utilizing national survey data and experimental research reveal the widespread tendency to think of time in monetary terms as a previously unexamined barrier to environmental behavior.

Together, the talks in this symposium will shed light on the diverse behavioral, social, and emotional consequences of time and money. In doing so, this symposium features novel empirical insights and investigates key questions: such as how does time and money impact well-being and prosocial behavior?

Subject Area: Social

Towards Happiness, Towards Wealth: Conflicting Desires Among the Wealthy
Grant E. Donnelly
Harvard Business School
Millionaires (N=2026) reported the increase in wealth they believed was necessary to increase happiness. All wealthy individuals – whether worth $1 million or more than $10 million – report requiring a near doubling of wealth to increase one point in happiness, and a near quadrupling of wealth to reach a perfect “10.”

Co-Author: Tianyi Zheng, London School of Economics

Co-Author: Emily Haisley, Yale University

Co-Author: Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School

Spending Money on Others Lead to Happiness Around the World
Lara B. Aknin
Simon Fraser University, Canada
We propose that the emotional benefits of charitable spending are detectable world-wide. For 130,000 Gallup World Poll participants, spending money on others was associated with greater happiness. This relationship is causal: participants in Canada, Uganda, India, South Africa, and Vanuatu experienced greater happiness when spending money on others.

Co-Author: Chris C.P. Barrington-Leigh, McGill University

Co-Author: Elizabeth W. Dunn, The University of British Columbia

Co-Author: John F. Helliwell, The University of British Columbia

Co-Author: Justine Burns, University of Cape Town

Co-Author: Robert Biswas-Diener, Portland State University

Co-Author: Imelda Kemeza, Mbarara University of Science and Technology

Co-Author: Paul Nyende, Makerere University

Co-Author: Claire E. Ashton-James, University of Groningen

Co-Author: Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School

Co-Author: Tanya Broesch, Simon Fraser University

Could You Spare Some Time? Time, Money, and Prosocial Behavior
Sanford E. DeVoe
University of Toronto
Despite the high potential for enhancing one’s own well-being, why do so many people fail to volunteer? Across five field and experimental studies we show that exposure to practices (e.g., hourly payment) that prompt people to think about time in terms of money decrease their propensity to undertake volunteering activities.

Co-Author: Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford University

Thinking About Time as Money Decreases Environmental Behavior
Ashley V. Whillans
University of British Columbia
Engagement in environmental behavior has stagnated. Our research proposes a novel explanation for this vexing social problem. Using national survey data and experimental research, we show that making the economic value of time salient lowers people’s intentions to engage in a broad range of environmental behavior and decreases actual recycling.

Co-Author: Elizabeth W. Dunn, The University of British Columbia

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