Do things or experiences make us happier?

Experiences make us happier, more grateful, and less susceptible to unfavorable comparisons.

Spending money on experiences tends to make people feel happier than spending money on things before, during, and after consumption (Kumar 2022). In general, having a strong materialistic value orientation is associated with poorer well-being (Dittmar and Isham 2022).


However, some limitations apply:

  • The experiential advantage is reduced for negative experiences, for solitary experiences, for lower-SES consumers, and when experiences are relatively utilitarian. Existing estimates of the experiential advantage may also be inflated by publication bias (Weingarten and Goodman 2021).

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