Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do Experiences Or Material Goods Make Us Happier?

Date:
February 24, 2009
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Should I spend money on a vacation or a new computer? Will an experience or an object make me happier? A new study says it depends on different factors, including how materialistic you are.

Should I spend money on a vacation or a new computer? Will an experience or an object make me happier? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says it depends on different factors, including how materialistic you are.

Even though conventional wisdom says choose the vacation, authors Leonardo Nicolao, Julie R. Irwin (both University of Texas at Austin), and Joseph K. Goodman (Washington University, St. Louis) say the answer is more complicated than previously thought.

"Dating as early as David Hume and through Tibor Scitovsky and many others, the sentiment has been that individuals will be happier if they spend their money on experiences (theatre, concerts, and vacations) as opposed to material purchases (fancy cars, bigger houses, and gadgets)" write the authors.

The authors say this advice holds true for purchases that turn out well. But when it comes to negative purchases (a disappointing sofa, a bad vacation), their research shows that experiences decrease happiness more than material goods. "In other words, we show that the recommendation should include a caveat: Purchases that decrease happiness are less damaging when they are material purchases than when they are experiential purchases," the authors explain.

Highly materialistic individuals, the authors found, were equally happy with their positive purchases and equally unhappy with negative purchases whether they were experiences or material goods. The researchers also found that emotional intensity decreases more quickly after material purchases than experiential ones.

Consumers should be especially cautious when choosing among experiences, say the authors, because making a negative choice can lead to lasting unhappiness with the experience. Risky material purchases, on the other hand, are less potentially damaging.

Overall, the authors agree with conventional wisdom: "Given a good probability of a positive experience, our research echoes past research in suggesting that money is well spent on vacations, concerts, amusement parks, and restaurants over comparably priced objects and trinkets," they conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Leonardo Nicolao, Julie R. Irwin, and Joseph K. Goodman. Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases? Journal of Consumer Research, 2009; 0 (0): 090114112421034 DOI: 10.1086/597049

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Do Experiences Or Material Goods Make Us Happier?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221532.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2009, February 24). Do Experiences Or Material Goods Make Us Happier?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221532.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Do Experiences Or Material Goods Make Us Happier?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221532.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins