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Money can't buy me love - but it can buy me chocolate

How many �s worth of happiness here
How many £s worth of happiness here
Originally Published 14 February 2003

Andrew Oswald and Andrew Clark's research, "A simple statistical method for measuring how life events affect happiness", started us thinking about Valentine's Day....

If marriage brings the same amount of happiness as £70,000 income per year - can we draw the conclusion that spending money on people makes them happy?

Most people that we asked were planning dinners for the special person in their life, some were buying flowers, others chocolates - although that was mostly the women - One man explained

"If I bought my girlfriend chocolates I'd be in more trouble than if I hadn't bought her anything! She's on a constant diet. It doesn't stop her eating the ones that she buys for me though!"

According to Oswald and Clark's paper it would take the additional income of £132,000 to offset the unhappiness caused by a separation, would some of the newly-single people on campus pay to get revenge and claw back some of that happiness?

A cursory search on the web provides as many opportunities to assuage the broken-hearted as it does to send Valentine's gifts. Sites offer to send the object of your hatred anything from a dozen beheaded long-stemmed roses to a male chastity belt.

The people that we spoke to on campus this week restored our faith in humanity. One undergraduate said

"I broke up with my long-term partner just after Christmas, and the best medicine has been muddying his name and treating myself. I had a radical new haircut and I'm out all the time now - it's made me realise what I was missing!"

It's not just the younger members of the university that scorn the idea of spending money on revenge, an older gentleman that we spoke to confirmed

"I'd rather spend money on having a good time myself, going out to dinner, or to the theatre with friends than waste money on someone who isn't a part of my life anymore. It's just throwing money away isn't it - you don't really gain anything from it?"

It seems that Valentine's Day will bring most people some degree of happiness, whether they are celebrating with friends or spending time with their loved ones. Refreshingly, although a lot of money is spent, it doesn't necessarily seem to correlate with people's happiness.

(But if anyone fells like spreading a little happiness our way - then ours is a box of chocs every time!)