As The Beatles so famously sang, “money can’t buy me love,” but what about happiness?

While buying experiences, rather than material things, has been found to make some people happy, for about one-third of the population, neither type of purchase will lead to joy (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

While buying experiences, rather than material things, has been found to make some people happy, for about one-third of the population, neither type of purchase will lead to joy (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

A study out of San Francisco State University found that while being a bit materialistic can bring some a lift, that’s definitely not the case for all.

“Everyone has been told if you spend your money on life experiences, it will make you happier, but we found that isn’t always the case,” Ryan Howell, an associate professor of psychology and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Extremely material buyers, who represent about a third of the overall population, are sort of stuck. They’re not really happy with either purchase.

“I’m a baseball fan. If you tell me, ‘Go spend money on a life experience,’ and I buy tickets to a baseball game, that would be authentic to who I am, and it will probably make me happy,” Howell explained. “On the other hand, I’m not a big museum guy. If I bought tickets to an art museum, I would be spending money on a life experience that seems like it would be the right choice, but because it’s not true to my personality, I’m not going to be any happier as a result.”

The researchers came to these conclusions by surveying shoppers about various factors. The survey is ongoing and anyone can contribute further by taking one of the Beyond the Purchase surveys.

“The results show it is not correct to say to everyone, ‘If you spend money on life experiences you’ll be happier,’ because you need to take into account the values of the buyer,” Jia Wei Zhang, the lead author of the study, said. 

If you’d like a video version on whether money can buy you happiness, check out this assessment from ASAP Science:

This most recent research was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

In terms of money buying comfort, a study by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnemann and his colleague Angus Deaton from Princeton University found that an annual household income of $75,000 fits the bill for most people. Higher incomes didn’t really see a gain in happiness.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

Front page image via Shutterstock

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