Dr. Aknin’s research focuses on the antecedents and consequences of happiness and prosocial behavior. Most of her work examines how generous behavior makes people feel. In 2012, she published "Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children" with J. Kiley Hamlin and Elizabeth Dunn, which supported the idea that humans may have evolved to find giving rewarding. In 2014, Aknin, Michael Norton and Elizabeth Dunn co-published a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and CIHR funded review of whether spending money had a positive effect on people's happiness. She was also honored by the university for her research and contributions to social Psychology with the title "Distinguished SFU Professor."
Her research has been published in various academic journals, including Science, Nature Human Behaviour, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Social Psychological and Personality Science and Perspectives on Psychological Science, and has been covered in international media outlets such as the CBC, CNN, Maclean’s Magazine, Forbes, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.