Buying Life Experiences to Impress Others Removes Happiness Boost

By Chelsea Whyte on June 19, 2012 7:24 PM EDT

cruise ship
Buying life experiences, like tickets for a cruise, may not make you happy if you're only doing it to impress someone else. (Photo: Creative Commons)

It may sound too simple to be true, but the secret to happiness may just come down to doing what pleases you, and you alone.

New research has found that trying to impress others with purchases, like tickets to concerts or trips to paradise, negates the positive benefit of those activities. A team at San Francisco State University found that people get greater happiness from purchasing experience-related items rather than material possessions, but only if they choose those experiences based on their own desires.

Like Us on Facebook

"Why you buy is just as important as what you buy," said study lead Ryan Howell. "When people buy life experiences to impress others, it wipes out the well-being they receive from the purchase. That extrinsic motivation appears to undermine how the experiential purchase meets their key psychological needs."

The research is based on a survey of 241participants, and Howell's team found that the motivation behind a purchase can predict whether someone will gain enjoyment from the activity.

As part of the study, the researchers developed and validated a new survey to measure individuals' motivations for experiential buying.

Wonder if you're falling into the trap of buying to impress others? You can take the survey by visiting the "Beyond the Purchase" website.

Howell said purchases for personal enjoyment fulfill psychological needs, including the need to feel competent, autonomous and connected to others.  Those needs, however, cannot be met if a purchase is made simply to impress other people, reports Business News Daily.

Many studies have shown that buying experiences more than material things brings greater happiness, according to Medical Daily. But Howell's team says it isn't just what you buy, but who you buy it for.

"The biggest question you have to ask yourself is why you are buying something," Howell said. "Motivation appears to amplify or eliminate the happiness effect of a purchase."

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)