Want Long-Lasting Happiness? Buy Stuff

Material purchases bring repeated bursts of pleasure: study
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2015 12:18 PM CST
Want Long-Lasting Happiness? Buy Stuff
Shoppers carry bags in London, April 14, 2015.   (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

There really is something to retail therapy: A new study in Social Psychological and Personality Science finds material purchases bring a person longer-lasting happiness than experiential purchases, like concert tickets or a trip to the zoo. In other words, whoever said money can't buy happiness was lying, reports Complex. Researchers at the University of British Columbia set out to gauge how happy a material purchase—be it a sweater or a coffee maker—made a person feel in the weeks after they got the item home. After asking shoppers to record how they felt about an item up to five times per day, researchers found material purchases delivered repeated bursts of happiness for weeks, while experiential purchases brought only a brief dose of pleasure.

The happiness that came from a visit to the spa, a sporting event, or a weekend getaway was more intense, though, and people tended to view such purchases more favorably when asked their thoughts about six weeks after Christmas. "The decision of whether to buy a material thing or a life experience may therefore boil down to what kind of happiness one desires," a researcher explains in a release. He breaks the study down like this: "Consider a holiday shopper deciding between tickets to a concert or a new couch in the living room. The concert will provide an intense thrill for one spectacular night, but then it will end," he says. "In contrast, the new couch will never provide a thrilling moment to match the concert, but will keep the owner snug and comfortable each day throughout the winter months." (Certain smells may make you spend more than planned.)

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