Can others detect the emotional consequences of our personal choices? Here we investigate whether third-party observers can detect the emotional benefits of two factors shown to influence self-reported happiness: the speed with which people make decisions and the generosity of spending choices. Participants were randomly assigned to purchase a goody bag either for themselves or for a sick child and to choose the contents of this goody bag either as quickly as possible or by taking as much time as needed. Then participants reported their current emotional state and were rated for happiness by a research assistant blind to their spending condition. Analyses revealed that purchasing a gift for someone else not only improved participants’ self-reported mood but that observers could detect these affective differences as well. Observers also rated participants who made their spending decision more quickly as happier although participants did not report these emotional differences.
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