Science says buying experiences brings more happiness than buying things
Would you rather buy a new home theater or go to Hawaii for vacation? Researchers have studied whether having lots of possessions makes you happier than having lots of experiences. Read this week’s article to find out what they discovered.
Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a Cornell University psychology professor, has been studying the relationship between money and happiness for more than 20 years. He has found that people gain more satisfaction from experiential purchases than from material purchases. Experiential purchases are purchases that you gain experiences from, for example going to an exhibition, seeing a play or traveling. Material purchases are things that you keep in your possession in the long term, for example a new watch or phone.
In several studies led by Dr. Gilovich, the researchers asked the participants various questions. For example, the researchers asked the participants to think about a recent experiential purchase and a recent material purchase. The participants were then asked to rate how much satisfaction they gained from the purchase, and how much they talked to others about it.
The researchers found that people gain more long-term satisfaction from an experience than from a possession. Gilovich explains that this is probably because happiness gained from material possessions gets weaker over time. At first, a material possession gives people a feeling of satisfaction when they buy it. However, after seeing and using the new object several times, its owner becomes accustomed to it and the feeling of satisfaction gets weaker.
Experiential purchases, on the other hand, are not easily comparable. Even if you go to the same place as someone else, you will not have exactly the same experience, and so, you will still feel the same level of satisfaction. Also, with experiential purchases you gain more satisfaction from talking about the experience with other people.
Experiences can also directly change who you are as a person. Some people may feel that their possessions change who they are too, but according to the research findings, objects cannot really become part of your identity in the same way experiences can. Even if you like the things you own a lot, they will always be separate from you as a person, whereas the things you experience in your life make you the kind of person you are.
Besides helping people decide what to do with their money, the results of this research could also help companies decide how to market their products. If companies can make their products seem more like an experience than a possession, then people will gain more from buying and having them.
Dr. Thomas Gilovich is a professor at Cornell University in the US. He has been studying the relationship between money and happiness for more than 20 years. He has learned that people get a lot of happiness from spending money on experiences, such as seeing a play or traveling. They get more happiness from experiences than from buying things, such as a new watch or phone.
Dr. Gilovich and his coworkers did many studies in which they asked some people many different questions. For example, the researchers asked the people to think about an experience they recently spent money on, and a recent thing they bought. The people were then asked how happy they were afterwards in each case, and how much they talked to other people about it.
The researchers learned that an experience makes people happier than when they buy an item. Gilovich explains that this is probably because happiness from buying things gets weaker over time. At first, people feel happy after buying something. However, after seeing and using the new item many times, the feeling of happiness gets weaker. This is because the item has become something normal to the person who bought it.
Experiences, however, are always different. People do not have the same experiences even if they go to the same place or do the same thing. So, the level of happiness does not change. Also, a person becomes happier when talking about the experience.
Experiences can also change who you are as a person. Some people may feel that the things they own can change who they are too. But Dr. Gilovich says that items cannot truly become part of you in the same way that experiences can. Even if you love the things you own, they will always be outside of you. The things you experience in your life make you the kind of person you are.
The findings of this research can help people choose how to spend their money. The findings can also help companies to choose how to market their products. If companies can make their products seem more like an experience than an item, then people will get more from having the products.
keep in (someone’s) possession 手放さずにいる
例：I keep my grandmother’s wedding dress in my possession.
led by ~ ～の主導による
get weaker over time 時間と共に弱くなる
例：Some people say love gets weaker over time.
become accustomed to ~ ～に慣れる
例：My job was difficult at first, but I’ve become accustomed to it.
who you are as a person どういう人間であるか
”who you are”は、人間としての本質や正体を意味しています。これには信念や価値観、人格、物事への考え方などが含まれます。
例：My experiences in high school have really influenced who I am as a person.