Can you buy happiness? – the research


DSCF9279_kleinThis week I have immersed myself in research and facts about buying and the influence of it. I like to know if the happiness feeling of people really increases when buying that new shirt or gadget. In my search to studies about this topic I found a study by Professor Richin (June 2013).

She found out that there is a difference between materialistic people and non-materialistic people. If people are materialistic they create too high expectations of the product and the increase of their happiness that it will bring. So in real when they are planning on buying something new their happiness increases before buying it but after buying the happiness decreases because of the overestimation about it.

But what counts for everyone, so also for the non-materialistic people, is that the increase of the happiness feeling always disappears when they get used to the new situation. A new car feels special when you bought it new but after a month driving it daily it feels like it has always been there. You’d be better off if you would spend your money on short-term and ephemeral experiences according to Richin.

I have to admit that I recognize the outcome of this study, it’s what I already tried to act upon. This week I had my first working day in Cambridge. As I just moved here I do not have any friends yet. My first earned money did not make me want to buy something new but make me want to drink a coffee with someone, to make friends and socialize. So I wanted to gain an experience. But unfortunately you can’t buy friendship. So I found myself at home researching places to meet new people. This feeling shows the other side of buying behaviour, our emotions and the mood that we are in is influencing what we want to buy. What comes with this is the feeling that you have with a certain brand. Brands try to capitalize on your emotions.

For now I don’t feel that I want to identify with a brand but it are my emotions that tell me what I want to spend my money on. As long as it is an experience that I want to buy, I’m going in the right direction.

STUDY: Marsha L. Richins. “When Wanting Is Better Than Having: Materialism, Transformation Expectations, and Product-Evoked Emotions in the Purchase Process.” Journal of Consumer Research: June 2013.

BOOK: Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.


One thought on “Can you buy happiness? – the research”

  1. Inge says:

    Hello Lieneke, I have just read your blog.It”s really interesting.Last year I particepated in the
    challenge “Buy nothing new month”. I noticed that I had a lot of impulses to buy stuff. Challenges makes me more aware. I look forward to your next post.

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