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Experiences, not possessions, lead to greater happiness

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February 8, 2009

February 8, 2009 Can money make us happy if we spend it on the right purchases? New research suggests buying life experiences rather than material possessions leads to greater happiness. 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.

"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 and head of the Personality and Well-Being Lab 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.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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3 Comments

Money may not buy happiness, but it sure improves your bargaining position.

Harvey Summers

Money can most definitely buy you happiness.

This would be in the form of security, piece of mind, and wellbeing.

For example: A home where you can feel comfortable and safe, transport, insurance, healthy food. And not having to constantly watch you bank balance to make sure you have enough left for food and bills.

Anyone who says otherwise has never tried living without money, possibly not even on a full time minimum wage and probably doesn't realise what a horribly competitive, uncaring lawsuit happy world we live in.

Zarneth

Money can not buy happiness. Let\'s talk lease rates.

Slowburn
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