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The “experiential advantage” is not universal – the less well-off get equal or more happiness from buying things

04 September 2018

Being rich(er) may not guarantee happiness, as shown by ample evidence from the social sciences, but there are ways of spending money that will make you happier than others.

Recent research has uncovered the “experiential advantage”: greater happiness from spending money on experiences (holidays, meals, theatre tickets) instead of material things (gadgets, clothes, jewellery).

This could be for a number of reasons, such as experiences being more closely aligned with our values and being less likely to produce rumination and regret.

There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Studies have found that personality traits can influence whether experiences or things make a person happiest; for example, introverts are made much happier by spending vouchers in a bookshop than a bar.

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