Congratulations! You’ve received an unexpected financial windfall. Should you use the money to buy a new GPS or go to a concert with friends?
According to a 2009 study conducted by the San Francisco State University psychology department, you’d be well served to choose the concert; your appreciation of the experience will grow over time, whereas your appreciation for the GPS will lessen in a matter of weeks.
Participants in the study answered questions about purchases they made with the intention of making themselves happy. Most were initially happy with their purchases regardless of whether they were material or experiential. However, those who invested in experiences tended to show higher levels of satisfaction for a significant amount of time after the events occurred. Also, because the experiences usually included other people, they reported a sense of connecting to friends or relatives, fulfilling a need for social bonding.
We found out about this study in a blog post from David DiSalvo called Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About. There are some other interesting studies on his list. We encourage you to take a look.