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Study: Buying Life Experiences Makes People Happier


Extroverted people who are open to new experiences are more inclined to spend more of their disposable income on experiences, such as a new restaurant, or a travel expedition, rather than shoes, clothes, or cars, a new study finds.

The data San Francisco State University study — led by Assistant Professor of Psychology, Ryan Howell — found “experiential shoppers” have more life satisfaction, than those who spend their money on material things.

Study findings were published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

To confirm these results, Howell, and his team created a website where the general public can take free surveys to determine what type of shoppers they were, and how their spending choices impacted their lives. The results of this web-survey will be examined in the near future to determine the correlation between buying choices, and well-being.

Howell and his team surveyed close to 10,000 subjects who filled out online questionnaires pertaining to their shopping habits, personality traits, level of life satisfaction, and values.

“We know that being an ‘experience shopper’ is linked to greater well-being,” said Howell.“But we wanted to find out why some people gravitate toward buying experiences.”

Researchers also learned that those who spent most of their disposable income on experiences, rather than possessions, scored high on the portions of the survey that related to being extroverted and having a willingness to try new things.

“This personality profile makes sense since life experiences are inherently more social, and they also contain an element of risk. “If you try a new experience that you don’t like, you can’t return it to the store for a refund,” Howell explained in a news release.

“Even for people who naturally find themselves drawn to material purchases, our results suggest that getting more of a balance between traditional purchases and those that provide you with an experience could lead to greater life satisfaction and well being,” suggested the authors.

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