Preliminary finding: Stark contrast in “thriving” between experiential and material buyers

Numerous studies have suggested that experiential purchases result in greater and more long-term happiness than material purchases. But what about the overall well-being of the types of people who typically spend materially or experientially?

Gallup uses Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Scale to gauge the percentage of Americans that are thriving, struggling, or suffering at any given time. Their results from 2011 were recently released and show how thriving scores have changed over the past few years, and also how they compare across different demographic variables (e.g., household income, age, gender, ethnicity, region of the country).

We ran some preliminary analyses from a U.S. sample of 443 adults who had taken both the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale and the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale and compared thriving scores for material, experiential, and balanced buyers, controlling for income.

As the results below demonstrate, experiential buyers were much more likely to be thriving, and much less likely to be struggling or suffering, than both balanced and material buyers.

Total Experiential Buyers Balanced Buyers Material Buyers
Thriving 58.2% 67.0% 58.6% 52.9%
Struggling 38.8% 31.8% 37.9% 43.9%
Suffering 2.9% 1.1% 3.5% 3.2%
n 443 88 198 157

We’ll continue to explore the mechanism by which purchasing style is linked to well-being, as well as other variables that may play a role in this relationship. You can help us with this research by creating an account and taking the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale and other spending and well-being related measures.

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  • jia wei

    even if you control for income, there are a host of other alternative explanation. For example, the Experiential buyers are themselves higher on well-being already than the material buyers. Or the experiential buyers are thriving more than the material buyers because EBTS is correlated with extraversion and less neuroticism as your paper showed. Or may be is even that people who thrives become more experiential. should probably test income/ses/social class as a moderator. I know high social class people tend to be EBTS at about .15-.20. and upper class people tends to be more higher on happiness, health, and access to resources.

    • admin

      Thank you for your comment Jia Wei, these are all excellent points. We are hoping the data we collect through this website will help us to sort out the various moderators and potential confounds of the relationship between purchasing style and well-being.

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