Materialism May Not Be All Bad, If You Purchase ‘Experiential’ Items

Materialism May Not Be All Bad, If You Purchase ‘Experiential’ Items

Conventional wisdom says that materialism — that is, using your money to simply buy more stuff — is a quick way to become unsatisfied and broke. However, spending on stuff instead of experiences may still be beneficial if those things are experiences themselves.

Picture: Karoly Czifra/Flickr

As researchers from San Francisco State University discovered, buying such things as books, video games or musical instruments can still increase a person’s happiness level because they weren’t just buying a trinket. They were buying something they could use, something that would enrich their lives:

“This is sort of good news for materialists.

“If your goal is to make yourself happier but you’re a person who likes stuff, then you should buy things that are going to engage your senses.

You’re going to be just as happy as if you buy a life experience, because in some sense this product is going to give you a life experience.”

In this sense, “buying an experience” isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive with “buying stuff”. If you spend money on movies just to put them on your shelf, that may be unhelpfully materialistic. But if you but them because you enjoy the experience of diving into that world, you can come out just as enriched as someone who spent the money on a beach holiday.

How The Right Type of Materialism Can Make You Happy [PsyBlog]


  • This is very interesting actually. I remember the time I bought and played Fallout. I absolutely lived that game. Loved the music. Loved the time I spent in Wasteland exploring and finding new things. I was the happiest man when I found the old tree.

    • This is exactly why I love video games. Playing a game is an experience. It also helps that they’re downloadable now and not a physical possession.

  • ‘Materialist’ does NOT mean ‘A person who seeks happiness by shopping’.

    ‘Materialists’ are people who accept that: “Matter and energy are the basis of phenomena.”
    (Or similar statements, almost all definitions have some fuzziness.)

    This article instead refers to ‘Economic Materialists’.

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