Lots of 'stuff' Doesn't Buy Happiness

BOULDER, Colo., April 15 (UPI) — People may not be able to buy happiness — and having a lot of material possessions may repel friends who are linked to happiness, U.S. researchers suggest.

Professor of psychology Leaf Van Boven of University of Colorado at Boulder, who has spent a decade studying the pursuit of happiness, says people who seek happiness with “stuff” are less likely to be liked by their peers than those who seek happiness through life experiences such as traveling or going to concerts.


“The mistake we can sometimes make is believing that pursuing material possessions will gain us status and admiration while also improving our social relationships,” Van Boven says in a statement. “In fact, it seems to have exactly the opposite effect. This is really problematic because we know that having quality social relationships is one of the best predictors of happiness, health and well-being.”

Van Boven and colleagues conducted five experiments. For example, undergraduates who were strangers were randomly paired and assigned to discuss for about 15 minutes either a material possession purchased, or a happy life experience.

The researchers say those who discussed their material possessions were less liked and people were less interested in forming a friendship with them.

The findings are published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology.

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