Can money really buy happiness? Kind of…
So many times when people speak of happiness, it comes with an “if” statement: if I had more money, I’d be happier; if I had a better job, I’d be happier. While there are certainly times this seems to be true, especially when you are down to your last few dollars, happiness should not be contingent on something else and a psychological study confirms it, especially in regards to money and happiness.
Psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions (hint: read to the bottom to consider how this impacts your business and bottom line).
For example, you get a bonus at work and you are trying to decide whether to treat yourself to a new pair of shoes, or a concert, game, or theater experience; research suggests that because the initial job of acquiring a new object fades over time, experiences stay with us longer. Experiences continue to provide happy memories long after the event has ended.
How the study worked
Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, presented his research at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s annual meeting. The study examined 154 people enrolled in the University, with an average age of 25. The participants answered questions about their recent purchases that were purchased with the intent of making themselves happy (some were material, some were an experience).
While most people reported being happy with their purchase regardless of the type, those who purchased experiences, reported greater happiness because it was related to a sense of enjoying it with someone else. So your happiness can again, influence others’ happiness. Howell states, “when people spend money on life experiences, whether they also take someone with them, or buy an extra ticket, or whatever, most of our life experiences involve other individuals. People were fulfilling their need for social bonding while having these experiences.”
While a new pair of shoes might be nice, purchasing an experience can have long-lasting, positive effects on your happiness level, as well as the happiness levels of those around you who share in the experience.
Keeping your customers in mind and making money
Conversely, this study very obviously points out that consumers want a full experience and are happier doing more than just forking over cash, so tending to the details can set your business apart as your competitors struggle to understand that spending money is about so much more than tangible goods or results.
Note from the editor: years ago, Benn Rosales, CEO and Founder here at The American Genius (AG) penned a thoughtful piece that is chock full of ideas on how to focus on experience and increase your revenues; check it out.