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For Greater Happiness, Spend Your Money on 'Life Experiences': Study
Researchers found people put more money on material goods, but emotional payoff is lower

By Robert Preidt

WEDNESDAY, April 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Buying so-called "life experiences" makes Americans happier than material goods such as cars, but they tend to favor the latter in the mistaken belief that they provide better value, according to a new study.

Researchers interviewed people before and after they made purchases and found that consumers felt life experiences -- like a weekend trip -- made them happier and were a better use of money than material items.

"People actually do know, and accurately predict, that life experiences will make them happier," study co-author Ryan Howell, an associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, said in a university news release.

"What they really underestimate is how much monetary value they will get out of a life experience," he added. "Even though they're told experiences will make them happier and they know experiences will make them happier, they still perceive material items as being a better value."

Part of the reason for this is that life experiences offer only memories, while people know the actual value of their material goods, said Howell, who has done extensive research on spending and happiness.

"We naturally associate economic value with stuff. I bought this car, it's worth $8,000," he explained. "We have a hard time estimating the economic value we would place on our memories."

The importance of this line of research goes far beyond shopping, according to the authors.

"Happiness is not some fleeting, positive emotion we experience in the moment," Howell said.

"There are tremendous benefits to happiness. Companies want their employers to be happier because they are more productive. Doctors want their patients to be happier because they will be healthier. We should try to figure out how to help people maximize their happiness because of all the benefits that come from it," he concluded.

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

More information

Mental Health America offers tips on how to live your life well.

SOURCE: San Francisco State University, news release, April 2, 2014

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=686338

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Life Change Events
Happiness
Mental Health
Psychology
Research Personnel
Emotions
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
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