Subscribe to our mailing list

X

Study Finds Life Experiences are More Valuable Than Possessions

By on April 2, 2010
Study Finds Life Experiences are More Valuable Than Possessions

The satisfaction we get from buying vacations, bikes for exercise and other experiences starts high and keeps growing. The initial high we feel from acquiring a flashy car or megascreen TV, on the other hand, trails off rather quickly, reports a new Cornell study.

Why are experiences more satisfying? For one thing, it’s harder to compare them to others’ experiences; they belong to us alone.

“Your experiences are inherently less comparative, they’re less subject to and less undermined by invidious social comparisons,” said professor of psychology Thomas Gilovich, who published the study with Travis J. Carter, Ph.D. ’10, in a recent issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

People are less satisfied with material purchases because they are more likely to second-guess what they could have had (such as a new model or a better price), the researchers found. Consumers spend more time thinking about material purchases they didn’t choose than they spend when they buy an experience.

“There’s a lot of work in the area of well-being and happiness showing that we adapt to most things,” Gilovich said. “Therefore, things like a new material purchase make us happy initially, but very quickly we adapt to it, and it doesn’t bring us all that much joy. You could argue that adaptation is sort of an enemy of happiness. Other kinds of expenditures, such as experiential purchases, don’t seem as subject to adaptation.”

Gilovich conducted studies about five years ago that people get more enduring happiness from their experiences than their possessions. The new research looks at why that is.

“Imagine you buy a flat panel TV. You come to my house, and I have a bigger, clearer picture than yours. You’re bummed out,” Gilovich said. “But suppose you go on a vacation to the Caribbean. You find out I’ve done the same, and mine sounds better than yours. It might bother you a little bit, but not nearly to the same degree because you have your memories; it’s your idiosyncratic connection to the Caribbean that makes it your vacation. That makes it less comparable to mine, hence your enjoyment isn’t undermined as much.”

READ  Money Does Not Always Bring Happiness

In one study, a bag of potato chips and a chocolate bar were both on a table. The volunteers were told they could have the chips, while the researchers implied that others got the chocolate. Another group of participants received a small physical gift that was next to a better gift that was intended for someone else. The participants reported they felt less satisfied in the latter case.

“Visible comparison undermined the enjoyment of the material goods, but it didn’t undermine the enjoyment of the experiential good [potato chips],” Gilovich explained. “If you consume an experience in the presence of something better, it doesn’t as consistently or powerfully undermine the experience.”

What does it all mean? “Our results suggest that if people get more enduring happiness from their experiences than their possessions, at a policy level, we might want to make available the resources that enable people to have experiences. You can’t go hiking if there are no trails. And if those are the kinds of things that give people more enduring enjoyment, we need to make sure we’re creating the kinds of communities that have parks, trails and so on that promote experiences that produce real enjoyment.”

Source


Last step, fill out the information below or call us for Priority Assistance.

What problems are you having with your report?

Your first name is required. Your first name is required to be at least 2 characters. Your first name cannot be longer than 50 characters.
Your last name is required. Your last name is required to be at least 2 characters. Your last name cannot be longer than 50 characters.
Your email is required.
Your phone is required. Your 10 digit phone number is required.
Your state is required.
Your age is required. Your age must be greater than 18. Your age must be less than 100.

By clicking on the "Contact Me" button above, you consent, acknowledge, and agree to the following: Our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and to receive electronic communications. We take your privacy seriously. That you are providing express "written" consent for Debt.com or appropriate service provider(s) to call you (including through automated means; e.g. autodialing, text and pre-recorded messaging) via telephone, mobile device (including SMS and MMS - charges may apply), even if your telephone number is currently listed on any internal, corporate, state or federal Do-Not-Call list. Consent is not required as a condition to utilize Debt.com services and you are under no obligation to purchase anything.

By clicking on the “Contact me” button above, you consent, acknowledge, and agree to the following: (1)That you are providing express “written” consent for Lexington Law Firm, Debt.com or appropriate service provider(s) to call you (including through automated means; e.g. autodialing, text and pre-recorded messaging) via telephone, mobile device (including SMS and MMS – charges may apply), or dialed manually, at my residential or cellular number, even if your telephone number is currently listed on any internal, corporate, state or federal Do-Not-Call list; and (2)Lexington Law’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and Debt.com’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Consent is not required as a condition to utilize Lexington Law or Debt.com services and you are under no obligation to purchase anything.

About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

Share a Comment / Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: