The hidden cost of value-seeking: People do not accurately forecast the economic benefits of experiential purchases

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The hidden cost of value-seeking: People do not accurately forecast the economic benefits of experiential purchases

In spite of the experiential advantage people consume material items in the pursuit of happiness. We conducted three studies to determine if people commit forecasting errors when deciding between purchasing life experiences and material items. Study 1a showed that people expect life experiences to result in more well-being whereas material items are forecasted to be a better use of money. However Study 1b demonstrated that people enjoy greater well-being from life experiences and consider them to be a better use of money. Study 2 a four-week longitudinal study corroborated this economic misforecast. Study 3 demonstrated that seeking to make good use of one’s money compared to prioritizing happiness is more important during material consumption and when people attempt to maximize economic value instead of their happiness they are more likely to consume material items. We suggest that prioritizing value may encourage people to prefer material items instead of life experiences.

Citation: 
The Journal of Positive Psychology , 2014 Vol. 9, No. 4, 322 – 334

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