Share the wealth and spread the word with Elizabeth Dunn and Sinan Aral

Happiness and money do go hand-in-hand, explained Elizabeth Dunn during her PopTech 2010 talk. But, it’s not the simple more-money, more-happiness equation that we might assume. In fact, during studies Dunn and her team conducted, it became apparent that there was a threshold at which point greater wealth led to a decreased ability to savor.

In addition, they found that those people who spent their money on others – friends, co-workers, teammates, charitable organizations and so forth – felt a greater sense of well-being than those who spent it on themselves.

So what if we could channel those good vibes associated with spending money on others to a broader audience and create a movement?

Which leads to 2010 Science Fellow Sinan Aral’s work: how does behavior spread throughout a population? If we can tap into that know-how, Aral believes we can leverage the power of networks, new technologies, and modes of communication to promote positive behaviors like financial responsibility, tolerance, and exercise and stifle detrimental behaviors like fraud, dirty needle sharing, and violence. The implications of Aral’s work can be applied to diverse fields including, for starters, epidemiology, innovation management and development economics as well as, perhaps, the correlation between wealth and contentedness.

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