Lara Aknin

Professor | Area Coordinator, Social Psychology | Distinguished University Professor

Area of Study


Research Interests

Prosocial behaviour, well-being, happiness, social relationships, altruism, money, social mobility, inequality

Selected Publications 

Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W. & Whillans, A. V. (2022). The emotional rewards of prosocial spending are robust and replicable in large samples. Current Directions in Psychological Sciences, 31 (6)536-545.

Aknin, L. B.*, Andretti, B.*, Goldszmidt, R.*, Helliwell, J. F.*, Petherick, A.*, De Neve, J. E., ... & Zaki, J. (2022). Policy stringency and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal analysis of data from 15 countries. The Lancet Public Health7(5), e417-e426.

Croft, A., Atkinson, C., Sandstrom, G., Orbell, S., & Aknin, L. B. (2021). Loosening the GRIP (Gender Roles Inhibiting Prosociality) to promote gender quality. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 25(1), 66-92.

Wiwad, D., Mercier, B., Piff, P. K., Shariff, A. F., & Aknin, L. B. (2021). Recognizing the impact of COVID-19 on the poor alters attitudes towards poverty and inequality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology93, 104083.

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 Psychology119(2), e15.

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. (2020). Prosocial Spending and Buying Time: Money as a Tool for Increasing Subjective Well-Being. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 61, 67-126.

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.

Aknin, L. B., Van de Vondervoort, J. W., & Hamlin, J. K. (2018). Positive feelings reward and promote prosocial behavior. Current Opinion in Psychology, 20, 55-59. DOI:

Van de Vondervoort, J., Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K., Slevinsky, J. & Kushnir, T. (2018). Toddlers experience happiness when giving and engaging in altruistic punishment. Developmental Psychology, 54(1), 1-14.  DOI: 10.1037/dev0000404    

Aime, H., Broesch, T., Aknin, L. B. & Warneken, F. (2017). Evidence for proactive and reactive helping in two- to five-year-olds from a small-scale society. PLoS ONE 12(11): e0187787. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187787

Wiwad, D. & Aknin, L. B. (2017). Motives matter: The emotional consequences of recalled self- and other- focused prosocial acts. Motivation and Emotion, 41, 730-740.  DOI:10.1007/s11031-017-9638-2

Schmitt, M.T., Aknin, L.B., Axen, J., & Schwom, R. (2018). Unpacking the relationships between pro-environmental behavior, life satisfaction, and perceived ecological threat. Ecological Economics, 143, 130-140. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.007

Shariff, A. F., Wiwad, D., & Aknin, L. B. (2016). Income mobility breeds tolerance for income inequality: Cross-national and experimental evidence. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11, 373-380. DOI: 10.1177/1745691616635596

Carlson, R., Aknin, L. B., & Liotti, M. (2016). When is giving an impulse? An ERP investigation of intuitive prosocial behavior. Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, 11, 1121-1129. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsv077

Aknin, L. B. & Human, L. J. (2015). Give a piece of you: Gifts that reflect givers promote closeness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 60, 8-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2015.04.006

Aknin, L. B., Broesch, T., Hamlin, J. K., & Van de Vondervoot, J. (2015). Prosocial behavior leads to happiness in a small-scale rural society. Journal of Experimental Psychology-General, 144, 788-795. DOI: 10.1037/xge0000082

Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2014). Prosocial spending and happiness: Using money to benefit others pays off. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 41-47. DOI: 10.1177/0963721413512503

Aknin, L. B., Barrington-Leigh, C. P., Dunn, E. W., Helliwell, J. F., Burns, J., Biswas-Diener, R., Kemeza, I., Nyende, P., Ashton-James, C. E., & Norton, M. I. (2013). Prosocial spending and well-being: Cross-cultural evidence for a psychological universal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(4), 635-652. DOI: 10.1037/a0031578