In analyzing consumerist society there’s always the looming question in the background: Does money equal happiness? You would think that social researchers would have answered this question and we could put the matter to rest.
In my opinion, using money to acquire more “stuff” is not a pathway to happiness. However, Renee M. Grinnell writes that some recent research indicates that indeed money does equal happiness, but only in a limited way.
What does psychology have to say on the subject? According to a new San Francisco State University study, both camps are partially right: money can lead to greater happiness for the person possessing it and those around them, if it is used to buy experiences, not possessions.
According to SFU’s February 7 press release, the study by Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at SFU, “demonstrates that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality — a feeling of being alive.”