Does buying experiences make you happier than buying posessions?

Does buying experiences make you happier than buying posessions?

Wondering what to buy your friend for their birthday? A recent psychological study suggests that buying experiences instead of possessions increases a person’s happiness. 

How did they test this? The study developed a so called Experiential Buying Tendency Scale (EBTS) with which they could measures a person’s inclination to buy life experiences compared to material possessions. What they found was that people who were more likely to buy experiences had higher openness, empathic concerns, extraversion and reward seeking. Furthermore, individuals with more non-materialistic principles experienced more psychological need satisfaction which in turn leads to an amplified subjective well-being. 

The reasons for this are assumed to be because higher order needs are satisfied by this. These are needs like feeling connected to others as well as feeling alive and vital.  

This means the next time you are struggling to find the perfect gift to make your friend happy, go buy them a bungee jump or theater tickets rather than something materialistic. 

Ryan T. Howell, Paulina Pchelin & Ravi Iyer (2012) The preference for experiences over possessions: Measurement and construct validation of the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7:1, 57-71, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2011.626791

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