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Talking about Experiences Makes People More Happy than their Wealth

Update Date: Jan 31, 2013 07:30 AM EST

A person is happier while sharing his/her life experiences than speaking about other things like material wealth, a study suggests.

The research was done by Amit Kumar, a graduate student in the field of psychology and Thomas Gilovich, professor of psychology. The paper was presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology's annual meeting in New Orleans.

The researchers observed that by relaying a particular experience, the speaker got the chance to relive the experience, and it also helps in making social connections.

To demonstrate this, they conducted seven experiments. In one of them, they asked 96 volunteers to share the experience of some purchase and they were then asked about the level of satisfaction received while speaking about the subject. They observed that the volunteers were happier narrating their experience than any material wealth details.

"People are more inclined to talk about their experiences than about their material purchases, and they derive more happiness from doing so. We also found that taking away the ability to talk about experiences diminishes the enjoyment they bring and that opportunity to talk about experiences increases the satisfaction they bring - but that's not true for material goods," Kumar was quoted as saying in Medicalxpress.

In another experiment, 98 volunteers were asked to recall the two most important things they bought in the past five years. They were then given two options: they could either recall the most significant purchase but not talk about it or they could pick the second preferred from the list and talk about it.

"Participants who recalled an experience were more likely to switch from a more significant purchase that they could not talk about to a lesser one that they could talk about, compared to those who recalled a possession," Kumar said.

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