New Study Finds that Materialistic People Are Less Happy Than Everyone Else

Money can buy happiness, but not if you're materialistic, according to a new study. | Image Source RF/Zero Creatives via Getty Images
Money can buy happiness, but not if you’re materialistic, according to a new study. | Image Source RF/Zero Creatives via Getty Images

Money can buy happiness, just as long as you’re not materialistic.

For a while now, conventional wisdom — with the backing of science — has held that you’ll be happier spending your paycheck on a trip to Hawaii than on another pair of Nikes. But a recent study, conducted by researchers at San Francisco State University, suggests that one personality type is an exception to the rule: Materialists.

According to their findings, “material buyers” — defined in the study as people who value materialistic pursuits and prefer buying material goods over experiences — aren’t any happier when they make “experiential” purchases like trips to Hawaii. Funny thing is, they’re not happier after a materialistic purchase, either — maybe because they’re worried about being judged for being so materialistic.

Over the course of three experiments, San Francisco State researchers classified a group of several hundred adults according to personality types, ranging from less materialistic to more materialistic. About a third of the group were materialistic personalities. Each person was asked to rate a material or experiential purchase according to questions such as, “how much has this purchase contributed to your overall life happiness?”

The more-materialistic participants got less happiness from experiential purchases, because such purchases didn’t fit with their personality and values. The researchers assumed these participants would at least get a “happiness boost” from material purchases, which better suit their values. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, material buyers weren’t any happier with their material purchases than with their experiential ones.

“Typically, when you’re congruent with your values, you’re happier,” Dr. Ryan Howell, an associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State and co-author of the study, told The Huffington Post. “But there are certain value systems that are shunned by society. When we find out someone is materialistic, we think less of them, and that drives their happiness down.”

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Source: Huffington Post | Rebecca Hiscott

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