Most people believe buying experiences instead of possessions will bring you more satisfaction in the long run. But that doesn’t mean you have to hurry — a recent study suggests that the longer you have to wait for it, the more you’ll enjoy it.
Photo by Chris Preen
The study, conducted in collaboration by Cornell, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, suggests that the anticipation leading up to an experience makes it more satisfactory than the anticipation of an item purchase. Additionally, the study suggests that the longer that anticipation period is, the more people enjoy the experience when it finally happens. One of the study’s leads, Amit Kumar, recommends a few steps you can take to maximise your own potential enjoyment:
It might make sense for consumers to delay their consumption of some experiential purchases to take advantage of the relatively more exciting anticipatory period that comes with experiential consumption. That is, it might be a good idea to make that restaurant reservation well in advance, to buy the tickets to the show beforehand, to start planning that vacation ahead of time. This increases the amount of time one can spend savouring his or her future consumption. You get extra time to imagine all the different foods you might eat, the songs the band might include in the set list, the feeling of the sand between your toes, and so on.
It’s already a good idea to plan ahead for trips and events, but now you have some extra incentive. Who knows, you might even be able to generate some extra joy by delaying the purchase of an experiential item as well. Chalk all of this up as another reason patience is a virtue.
Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases [Psychological Science via NYMag]