Researchers at the University of Columbia are calling BS on the general idea that money can’t buy happiness. According to a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science,  material items are more likely to give individuals happiness when compared to experiential purchases, such as traveling or attending sporting events. The self-reported survey, conducted by Aaron Weidman and Elizabeth Dunn, focused on a person’s emotions while in the moment of a purchase, and reassessed those feelings throughout an extended period of time.

Here’s how it all went down: Participants were asked to write down their feelings following the transaction in a daily diary. After six weeks, researchers found that material purchases—which included everything from skateboards and sweaters to coffee makers and portable speakers—provided people with more doses of happiness than the experiential purchases. But, experiential purchases seemed to provide a much more intense, yet fleeting, state of joy.

“The decision of whether to buy a material thing or a life experience may therefore boil down to what kind of happiness one desires,” Weidman told Science 2.0.  “Consider a holiday shopper deciding between tickets to a concert or a new couch in the living room. The concert will provide an intense thrill for one spectacular night, but then it will end, and will no longer provide momentary happiness, aside from being a happy memory. In contrast, the new couch will never provide a thrilling moment to match the concert, but will keep the owner snug and comfortable each day throughout the winter months.”

So there you have it kids. You might still have a hell of a time buying love but you can drop a few coins on some new limited edition shimmer eyeshadow for a quick mood boost. And then maybe wear that shadow to dinner later. And then come home to that new couch and snuggle up with that new puppy.

Albeit temporary, money can buy happiness. What are your thoughts?

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  • Mary Burrell

    Being poor sucks but I think if I had a lot of money and material things with fake fair weather friends that would be miserable too.

    • That’s a great point. If someone is very rich, someone has to be careful with their resources (since nefarious people in many cases will try their best to take advantage of folks who just received a lot of money) too since the IRS will be on resources like a hawk. Regardless if someone is rich, middle class, or poor, real ethics should be advanced.

    • RaiseTheBar


      therein lies Keys to ANSWERS:

      LANGUAGING!, especially internal dialogue with regard to thoughts, beliefs, values, FEELINGS.

      Poor, Rich

      money(paper), stocks, bonds (more paper) — abundant

      Morally, Spiritually, BANKRUPT

      What is RICHness? Which is Poverty?

    • paintgurl40

      Right. You get a new set of problems and anxieties. Now you have to worry about keeping your eyes on it at all times. Money comes and goes throughout life so the idea that more money is equalled to happiness is false. Not having THE BURDEN OF DEBT will make one a happier person! Having some sort of retirement plan will ease some anxieties as well. I choose to be grateful for what I have and not focus on what I don’t anymore.

  • Mary Burrell

    I know a few people who are shopaholics just buying stuff to fill the empty void inside themselves.

  • Ms. Vee

    If happiness was a pie chart money would constitute 85% of that chart. There is no way one can be happy without access to basic necessities. Money is needed for that.