I just read about some research that has been recently done regarding happiness and purchases. The assumption going in was that experiences would generate more happiness than material purchases. However, it seems this is not always the case. A positive experience such as an enjoyable vacation, concert, or day at the amusement park seems to generate more happiness than a material purchase such as a sofa. However, experiences don’t always turn out to be positive. Negative purchases of experience or material goods seem to be about equal.
This seems like it could be a pretty complex issue. For example, if you buy materials for a hobby, are you buying an experience or material goods. What about if you buy a painting? And one person’s dream vacation might someone else’s nightmare.
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For more information from Discovery @ Olin, Washington University Business School – Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential or Material Purchases Lead to Greater Happiness?