Can You Buy Long-Term Happiness?

Congratulations! You’ve received an unexpected financial windfall. Should you use the money to buy a new GPS or go to a concert with friends?

According to a 2009 study conducted by the San Francisco State University psychology department, you’d be well served to choose the concert; your appreciation of the experience will grow over time, whereas your appreciation for the GPS will lessen in a matter of weeks.

Participants in the study answered questions about purchases they made with the intention of making themselves happy. Most were initially happy with their purchases regardless of whether they were material or experiential. However, those who invested in experiences tended to show higher levels of satisfaction for a significant amount of time after the events occurred. Also, because the experiences usually included other people, they reported a sense of connecting to friends or relatives, fulfilling a need for social bonding.

We found out about this study in a blog post from David DiSalvo called Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About. There are some other interesting studies on his list. We encourage you to take a look.


One Response

  1. Fact’ A highly successful and wealthy medical practitioner was going about his business in his usual hurried way when a patient called out to him’Hey _______!–don’t you know money cant buy happiness’?Quick as a flash he replied ‘If you have got enough of it you can rent it’.He lived by this credo and despite very serious setbacks he is presently selling his chain of medical centres for 50 million dollars.At 67 he has recently married a 26 year old woman.Psychologists can have a field day with that maybe. Otto Fenichel said that psychoanalysis ‘may change neurotic misery into ordinary unhappiness’ and this of course begs the question as to whether it is worth the time and money.It is certainly an investment in an experience.It may not be as enjoyable as attending a concert but its influence if successful ought to last for the rest of ones life.Fenichel’s statement that’ it may turn one into what one might have become if ones life circumstances had been different’ might give succour to those who might otherwise think they are throwing money away for no good reason. I recall a woman psychologist who had no knowledge of Emile Couie I explained he was the ‘inventor’ of ‘auto-suggestion’..I told her that for a depressed person ‘auto-suggestion’ might be a good thing.I meant that they should buy a new car. I saw he a week later, she was driving a new sports car.Ah! that Emile Couie.-he was just a French pharmacist in the 1800’s.Little did he know that his findings would influence behaviour in the 21’st century.

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