THE SCIENCE OF STUFF

Stuff isn't always bad. Sure, we're not advocating for a lot of stuff (hence our motto: more knowledge and less stuff), but we don't live in museums. We need stuff. We want stuff. We also sell stuff.

So, in the wise words of Seinfeld, what's the deal with stuff? Why do we need, want, and sell it? Within the past decade or so, psychology researches have stated studying the correlation between happiness and purchasing, between satisfaction and stuff. In 2003, some of the earliest and most influential research was done by Leaf van Boven and Tom Gilovich, who established the difference on our happiness between buying stuff and buying experiences. Their study and much of the research that followed argued that for maximum happiness, buy experiences not stuff.

However, as the field grows, additional research has complicated that advice. For example, if you're what Gilovich calls a "connoisseur," buying stuff like baseball cards, or exotic bottle of wine, or shoes, might make you really really happy. This stuff falls into the category that researchers call "experiential products." The experience of buying the product generates happiness.

All that research lands heavily on the side of experience vs stuff BUT more recently, studies into momentary happiness vs the happiness afterglow, have complicated things further. Aaron C. Weidman and Elizabeth W. Dunn, two social scientists in Canada, performed a series of experiments studying whether stuff might bring more frequent happiness, while experiences may bring you more intense nostalgic happiness. Their findings proved their hypothesis: material things bring happiness more frequently than experiences.

So happiness is complex, and money is complex, and happiness as it relates to money is complex. What's clear though is stuff can make you happy frequently, while doing stuff can make you happier longer. Our advice? Stuff both into your lives and be as happy as can be.

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The Olen Fam


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