“Happiness cannot be bought” might be an erroneous concept after all. A new study shows that it can be literally true. Published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the paper presents the idea of obtaining happiness from material things.
Good news for the shopaholics. Material purchases bring more frequent happiness over time. On the other hand, experiential purchases (for example, going to the zoo) caters for more intense happiness on individual occasions.
The aim of the study was to learn about the feelings (over the first few weeks) people experienced when buying items. The latter’s real-time, momentary happiness that sprouted from both material and experiential purchases was evaluated 5 times a day for 14 days; the first category included reindeer leggings, portable speakers, or coffee makers, while the latter involved a weekend ski trip, tickets to a hockey game, or spa gift cards.
The people’s thoughts were also recorded (after they made their purchases and a month after).
The results portray happiness in two specific types: from the material gains, the volunteers experienced repeated doses of happiness in the weeks following the purchase, and from the experiential purchases, they obtained a more intense, but short-lasting happiness.
Furthermore, they were more satisfied of the experiential purchases when they looked back over their purchases 6 weeks following Christmas.
One of the authors, Mr. Aaron Weidman from the University of British Columbia, explains that a person might decide whether to make the acquisition of a material thing or a life experience in terms of the type of happiness he seeks. If he prefers an intense happiness that is fleeting, he can opt for the latter while someone wanting long-lasting happiness might be better off going for a material item.