People Think Experiences Bring Happiness, Still Opt for Things




This is Scientific American 60-Second Mind, I'm Erika Beras. Got a minute?
You might assume that a new purse, painting or pair of shoes will bring happiness.
Although you'd probably get a bigger kick out of attending a play or spending a week in Paris.
But people still mostly opt for items over experiences, because the value of items is more easily quantifiable.
That's according to a study in The Journal of Positive Psychology.
Researchers surveyed people before and after they made purchases.
Beforehand, they rated life experiences as making them happier and as a better use of money than buying objects.
But subjects still tended to buy objects over experiences.
Then, despite picking items, most said they still believed the experiences would have been a better choice.
The researchers ascribe this conflict to the tangible and quantifiable nature of a thing.
You can point to a car and say how much its worth.
But taking that car on a cross-country trip is an experience, and experiences can't easily be assigned a value.
Unless of course, you're still paying off that week in Paris.
Thanks for the minute, for Scientific American 60-Second Mind. I'm Erika Beras.