Giving good gifts may benefit from considering the kind of happiness a gift brings.
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Wondering what to buy that special someone this Xmas?
Then definitely don’t take my advice.
But science has something to say about giving good gifts.
Studies have found that gifting an experience (e.g. a trip) brings more happiness than giving material gifts (e.g. a sofa).
But a more recent study suggests that material gifts can bring as much happiness as experiences, it’s just a different type.
The study compared the effects of material purchases, like portable speakers and coffee makers, with experiential purchases, like tickets to a hockey game or a weekend ski trip.
The results showed that experiential purchases provided short intense bursts of pleasure which tended to fade away.
Material purchases brought repeated smaller doses of happiness over the weeks.
Mr Aaron Weidman, the study’s first author, said:
The decision of whether to buy a material thing or a life experience may therefore boil down to what kind of happiness one desires.
Consider a holiday shopper deciding between tickets to a concert or a new couch in the living room.
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.
Actually, you probably didn’t need science to tell you that.
It’s worth noting though, that when people looked back at their purchases six weeks later, it was the experiences that gave them more satisfaction.
The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science (Weidman & Dunn, 2015).
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