In a series of studies, researchers Jacob C. Lee of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Deborah Hall of Arizona State University, and Wendy Wood of the University of Southern California found that only individuals who were relatively higher in social class showed the well-known effect of greater happiness from purchasing experiences, such as going to a concert or the movies, compared with purchasing material goods, such as a pair of shoes or accessories.
Lower class individuals, on the other hand, did not show the same pattern -- in some cases, they reported the same degree of happiness from experiential and material purchases, whereas in others they actually reported that material purchases made them happier.
Conclusion - Experiences - Yields - Happiness - Objects
The conclusion that buying experiences yields more happiness than buying tangible objects is known as the experiential advantage.
"However, this simple answer to the question of how to best spend your money does not consider the huge economic disparities in our society," Wood notes. "We reasoned that the basic motives that shape consumer decisions would vary between higher-class and lower-class consumers. Thus, we anticipated that the degree of happiness obtained from different types of purchases would also vary by social class."
Individuals - Class - Abundance - Resources - Growth
Individuals of higher social class have an abundance of resources, which means they can afford to focus more on internal growth and self-development. Because experiential purchases are more closely related to the self than material ones, higher-class individuals should derive more happiness from an investment in an experience.
People who have fewer resources, on the other hand, are likely to be more concerned with resource management and making wise purchases.
Lower-class - Consumers - Money - Tickets - Weekend
"For lower-class consumers, spending money on concert tickets or a weekend trip might not result in greater happiness than buying a new pair of shoes or a flatscreen TV," Hall explains. "In fact, in some of our studies,...
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