‘Experiences’ May Not Buy ‘Happiness’

Slate: “There’s a whole slew of social science research that suggests that to maximize happiness, it’s best to spend your money on activities, not material goods … But new research from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, or HAS, adds a wrinkle to the discussion—its new paper suggests that perhaps in embracing this idea, we have been slightly unfair to our stuff.”

“The research, published by Tamás Hajdu of the Institute of Economics at HAS and Gabor Hajdu of the Institute of Sociology at HAS … found that the difference in satisfaction conferred between the different purchase types was both incredibly small and not statistically significant.” They report: “Although both experiential and material expenditures were positively associated with life satisfaction, we found no significant evidence supporting the greater return from experiential purchases.”

“Most research still suggests that money makes people happier when it’s spent on activities. In fact, even this research found that to maximize happiness, you should spend a little more on experiences—it just also found that this “gain” in happiness was incredibly, perhaps unnoticeably, small.”

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