Researchers found out that the two types of purchases lead to happiness among humans for an extended periods depending on how they perceive the purchase.
In a recent study from the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers Aaron Weidman and Elizabeth Dunn from The University of British Columbia wanted to find out what people felt after they have made a purchase over an extended period of time.
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For the purpose of the study, they assessed the real-time, momentary happiness people got from material and experiential purchases, up to five times per day for two weeks.
Material purchases consisted of items such as reindeer leggings, portable speakers, or coffee makers, and examples of experiential purchases were a weekend ski trip, tickets to a hockey game, or spa gift cards.
They had people record their thoughts in the weeks following their purchases. They also recorded their thoughts after one month of their purchases.
The researchers found out that material and experiential purchases bring happiness in two distinct senses. According to their findings, material purchases bring repeated doses of happiness over time in the weeks after they are bought.
Experiential purchases offer a more intense but fleeting dose of happiness. Moreover, when people looked back on their purchases 6 weeks after Christmas, they felt more satisfaction about experiential purchases.
According to Weidman, the satisfaction is dependent upon how a person perceives his or her purchase. For some, the momentary thrill of experiential purchase might be more exhilarating than the long time comfort of a material purchase.
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For other people the satisfaction derived from the comfort brought by material purchase is much more gratifying than the experiential purchase which is left in the memory as an imprint rather than offer any kind of comfort or happiness in materialistic sense over a longer period.