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My name is Ryan Howell and I am an associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. My Personality & Well-being Lab focuses on identifying the factors that may best remedy human problems and cultivate thriving by understanding the barriers to functioning while simultaneously determining the conditions for meeting higher-order psychological needs. The primary aim of the Personality and Well-Being Lab is to communicate to scientists and society about how development, personality, motivation, values, beliefs, forecasts, and community interact with a person's economic conditions and financial decision-making to influence experienced quality of life—from suffering to flourishing.
Who do I work with?
My main collaboration collecting data on BeyondThePurchase.Org with my co-founder Ravi Iyer. When you register and take various Beyond the Purchase quizzes, you will learn about how your spending choices can affect your happiness. Your responses to these surveys will also help researchers further understand the connection between money and happiness.
What do I research?
A primary question I try to answer is: "Can money make us happy if we spend it on the right purchases?" My past work has shown that life experiences lead to longer-term satisfaction - likely because purchased experiences provide memory capital. That is, we don't tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object. Yet, despite the need to understand how people can use their income to increase their well-being, surprisingly little is known about the processes by which one may resist urges to buy material items and invest in experiential consumption.
Links to my research
Have you ever spent money on something that didn't make you as happy as you thought it would? If so, you're not alone. Research has shown that while most people think having more money will make them happier--it frequently doesn't. So is it possible to become happier by changing your spending habits? Fortunately, the answer is yes--to help others know about the connection between money and happiness I write a blog on Psychology Today.