Helping and Happiness Lab

Contact Information

Lab Director, Dr. Lara Aknin (

Lab Manager, Emily Thornton (

The Helping and Happiness Social Psychology Lab is located at AQ 3135, Simon Fraser University

8888 University Dr, Burnaby,
BC V5A 1S6


In the Helping and Happiness Lab, we are interested in the study of what makes people happy, the emotional consequences of kind or generous behavior, and the well-being outcomes of specific spending choices.

Recent Publications

Wiwad, D., Mercier, B., Piff, P. K., Shariff, A., & Aknin, L. (2020). Recognizing the impact of COVID-19 on the poor alters attitudes towards poverty and inequality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 93. 104083. 

Thornton, E., & Aknin, L. B. (2020). Assessing the validity of the Self versus Other Interest Implicit Association TestPLoS ONE. 15(6): e0234032. (OSF Pages: Study 1Study 2)

Mercier, B., Wiwad, D., Robinson, A., Aknin, L. B.Piff, P. K., Shariff, A. F. (2020). Free will and inequality. CollabraPsychology6(1), 25(OSF Page)

Wiwad, D., Piff, P. K., Robinson, A. R. Aknin, L. B., Mercier, B., Shariff, A. (2020). Shifting attributions for poverty motivates opposition to inequality and enhances egalitarianism. Nature Human Behaviour. (OSF Page)

Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., Proulx, J., Lok, I., & Norton, M. I. (2020). Does spending money on others promote happiness?: A registered replication report. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (OSF Page)

Thornton, E., Aknin, L. B., Branscombe, N., & Helliwell, J. F. (2019). Prosocial perceptions of taxation predict support for taxes. PLOS ONE, 14(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225730 (OSF Page)

Dunn, E. W., Whillans, A. V., & Norton, M. I. & Aknin, L. B. (in press). Prosocial Spending and Buying Time: Money as a Tool for Increasing Subjective Well-Being. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology

Aknin, L. B., Whillans, A. V., Norton, M. I., & Dunn, E. W. (2019). Prosocial behaviour and happiness: A critical evaluation of the evidence. World Happiness Report. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Wiwad, D., Mercier, B., Maraun, M. D., Robinson, A. R., Piff, P. K., Aknin, L. B., & Shariff, A. F. (2019). The Support for Economic Inequality Scale: Development and adjudication. PLoS ONE, 14, e0218685DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218685 (OSF Page)

Whillans, A. V., Aknin, L. B., Ross, C., Chen, L., Chen, F. S. (2019). Common variants of the oxytocin receptor gene do not predict the emotional benefits of prosocial spending. Emotion. DOI: 10.1037/emo0000589


Lab Members


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