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Material purchases bring longer-lasting happiness than experiences, study says
Apparently money really can buy happiness, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. - photo by Jessica Ivins
VANCOUVER, B.C. Apparently money really can buy happiness, despite what you may have heard to the contrary.

Thats according to a new study from researchers at the University of British Columbia that revealed buying actual stuff brings longer-lasting happiness than spending your money on experiences.

The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, set out to measure a persons emotion at the time of a purchase and tracked that emotion over time. Study participants were given a diary and asked to record how they felt about particular purchases up to five times a day over a six-week period.

Researchers found that at the end of the six weeks, material items including coffee makers, sweaters and even reindeer leggings brought more frequent doses of happiness in the time after their initial purchases than splurging on experiences.

However, experiential purchases like a concert, trip to the zoo, sporting event or vacation brought a more intense yet short-lived feeling of joy immediately afterward, researchers concluded.

Consider a holiday shopper deciding between tickets to a concert or a new couch in the living room, study author Aaron Weidman said in a release. The concert will provide an intense thrill for one spectacular night, but then it will end, and will no longer provide momentary happiness, aside from being a happy memory. In contrast, the new couch will never provide a thrilling moment to match the concert, but will keep the owner snug and comfortable each day throughout the winter months.

Researchers say these findings are particularly useful during the holiday season when shoppers are considering what purchases to make.

The decision of whether to buy a material thing or a life experience may, therefore, boil down to what kind of happiness one desires, Weidman said.
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