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How Holiday Shopping And Consumerism Change Your Mood

Update Date: Dec 24, 2015 08:41 AM EST

Why do you shop so much? It's not completely due to just buying what you want, but in order to improve your happy scale.

Shopping can make you frequently happy over long periods. On the other hand, when you buy something that involves experiences, such as visiting the zoo, you can experience a lot of happiness on "individual occasions", according to scienceworldreport.

Most of the earlier studies that looked at the material and experiential purchases and happiness checked what people expected about shopping, or what memories they had about items and experiences. The researchers now want to know how people feel moment by moment.

They thus "assessed the real-time, momentary happiness people got from material and experiential purchases, up to five times per day for two weeks".

Hence, scientists asked people to record their thoughts in the weeks after they made their purchases, and also a month after they had completed their shopping. Thus, they found that "material and experiential purchases" brought them happiness in two ways.

Material purchases could make them happy for a longer time, even weeks after they finish their purchases, but experiential purchases make their happiness fleeting, if intense.

"The decision of whether to buy a material thing or a life experience may, therefore, boil down to what kind of happiness one desires," said Aaron Weidman, one of the researchers, in a news release. "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."

The study is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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