San Francisco State University issued the following news release:

Buying Experiences, Not Possessions, Leads To Greater Happiness

Can money make us happy if we spend it on the right purchases? A new
psychology study suggests that buying life experiences rather than
material possessions leads to greater happiness for both the consumer
and those around them.

The study demonstrates that experiential purchases, such as a meal out
or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy
higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and
vitality — a feeling of being alive.

“These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where
purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the
greatest well-being,” said Ryan Howell, assistant professor of
psychology at San Francisco State University.

Participants in the study were asked to write reflections and answer
questions about their recent purchases. Participants indicated that
experiential purchases represented money better spent and greater
happiness for both themselves and others. The results also indicate that
experiences produce more happiness regardless of the amount spent or the
income of the consumer.

Experiences also lead to longer-term satisfaction. “Purchased
experiences provide memory capital,” Howell said. “We don’t tend to get
bored of happy memories like we do with a material object.

“People still believe that more money will make them happy, even though
35 years of research has suggested the opposite,” Howell said. “Maybe
this belief has held because money is making some people happy some of
the time, at least when they spend it on life experiences.”

“The mediators of experiential purchases: Determining the impact of
psychological need satisfaction” was conducted by Ryan Howell, assistant
professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and SF State
graduate Graham Hill.

These findings were presented at the Society for Personality and Social
Psychology annual meeting on Feb. 7.

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