Apr 29, 2016

Happiness Study

For the study, published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, researchers Aaron Weidman and Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia gave 67 participants $20 to spend on either an experiential or material purchase of their choice, and then to report one experiential or material gift they had recently received. Then they quizzed them about their happiness levels through text messages and questionnaires.

They found that the study subjects derived more frequent momentary happiness from material goods, but more intense momentary happiness from the experiences. In other words, they enjoyed their material goods on a greater number of occasions than they did their experiences, even though the happiness felt from the experiences was slightly more intense.

People who want the most happiness for their buck should buy experiences, not things. The idea is that the joy of an experience begins before it even starts, and continues when you look back on the fancy dinner or vacation fondly. Experiences provide both more anticipatory happiness and afterglow happiness.

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