Thank you for taking our surveys! We know you answered many questions, but we hope you learned a lot about yourself.

The first scale you completed was the Satisfaction with Life Scale developed by Ed Diener (1985); he is a leading researcher on happiness at the University of Illinois. The graph below shows your life satisfaction on the green bar. The average life satisfaction of people who have completed this scale is shown on the purple bar.

Now we are now going to go over some influences on happiness.

One scale you completed was the Gratitude Questionnaire (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2001). It was designed to measure a person’s likelihood of experiencing gratitude in daily life. The graphs below show your scores in comparison to others who have also completed the same surveys. Your scores are shown in green (1st bar). People who are considered to be "less happy" are shown in red (2nd bar) and people considered to be "more happy" are shown in blue (3rd bar).

As the graph above shows, happier people tend to be more grateful.

Why does gratitude matter for happiness?
Past research has shown that grateful people are happier than less grateful people. More specifically, individuals who score high on the Gratitude Questionnaire:
  • Report more frequent positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and hope.
  • Are viewed by their peers as being more generous with their time and resources.
  • Place less importance on material goods and are less likely to judge their own and others' success in terms of possessions.

#2 Also, we often talk about money not being able to buy happiness. However, the question is “how,” not “if.”
The general recommendation is to buy experiences rather than material possessions. Let’s elaborate.

Another scale you completed was the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale (Howell, Pchelin, & Iyer, 2012). It measures your overall tendency to purchase material things versus life experiences.

As the graph above shows, happier people tend to spend more of their money on life experiences.

Why does experiential consumption increase happiness? Numerous studies have demonstrated that spending money on life events and activities (such as concert tickets, travel, outdoor activities, etc.) makes people happier than spending money on material items. Why? For one, purchasing experiences provides people the opportunity to bond with others. Experiential consumption also helps people express their identities. Also, we can easier cherish a memory that exists by itself rather an object that wears out. It’s actually better to enjoy something temporary than grow used to something permanent.

#3 However, not everyone likes experiential consumption. Some people prefer buying material objects because they believe that material consumption is an important goal in life, singles success, and increases happiness. These people are materialistic, and this personality trait is measured with the Materialistic Values Scale (Richins, 2004), which you have completed as well.
It is composed of three subscales:

  • Acquisition Centrality: seeing material purchasing as one of your primary life goals.
  • Pursuit of Happiness: believing that material possessions provide happiness.
  • Defined Success: thinking of material possessions as signs of success and achievement.

As the graph above shows, people who are happier are less likely to believe that material possessions provide happiness or think of material possessions as signs of success and achievement.

Why is materialism bad for well-being?
As the graph above shows, people who are happier are less likely to believe that material possessions provide happiness or think of material possessions as signs of success and achievement. Research shows that materialistic people have lower life satisfaction, less happiness, and higher levels of depression. Why?

  • Materialiss value achievement by societal standards instead of personal ones.
  • They often shop to gain status but never feel that they have enough status.
  • Materialistic values are self-focused, and this focus creates a conflict with valuing one’s community and personal relationships.
  • Material purchases are easier to compare socially than experiences. Your vacation is inherently different from your friend’s vacation, but the same friend can get a newer gadget on a better sale.

Overall, it’s psychologically unhealthy to expect happiness from purchases that are likely not to make you happy. It is also unhealthy to evaluate your self-worth and expect happiness from meeting external societal standards – no one will be good enough when compared to an arbitrary ideal.

Would you like to learn more about yourself? You already filled out the surveys – now you just have to look at your results!

You can also learn about how you define and seek well-being by looking at your results from the Beliefs in Well-Being scale and the Hedonism Value scale. Additionally, you can look at your general personality traits, also known as the Big Five.

Do you have ideas on improving this study? Or did you encounter any difficulties in answering the questions? Click here to send a message to the creators of this study.

Learn more about your happiness and spending habits!

Featured Studies
Importance of Happiness Survey:
How much will you sacrifice for more happiness?
36 questions
The Big Five personality test:
How do you score on the five fundamental dimensions of personality?
29 questions
A 2-week Gratitude Intervention:
Can recalling grateful events increase your happiness? Note: only people who register with FB can take this study
About 5 minutes nightly for two weeks
contact: webmaster at beyondthepurchase dot org