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Which Features of Prosocial Spending Recollections Predict Post-Recall Happiness? A Pre-registered Investigation

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People frequently spend money on others and research shows that such prosocial spending often promotes the benefactor's happiness, even sometimes when reflecting upon past prosocial purchases. But on whom and what do people generally spend their money? And what features of prosocial spending memories are associated with greater post-recall happiness? In a pre-registered examination, human coders and a text analysis software coded over 2,500 prosocial spending recollections for information regarding the target, content, and presence of five theoretically motivated dimensions: affiliation, volition, impact, authenticity, and level of detail. Exploratory analyses revealed that people often recalled buying gifts or food and typically spent money on significant others, friends, or children. Consistent with the pre-registered hypotheses, higher levels of volition and impact were associated with greater post-recall happiness (rs: .05 – .07), controlling for pre-recall happiness. However, in contrast to the pre-registered hypotheses, affiliation, authenticity, and level of detail did not predict greater happiness. These findings illuminate some key characteristics of prosocial purchases and the most rewarding features of people's prosocial spending recollections.
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