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Flashcards in Consumer Psyc 4 Deck (8)
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— “the importance a consumer attaches to worldly
possessions” (Belk, 1984, p. 291)
— Material values scale (Richards & Dawson, 1992)
◦ e.g., “My life would be better if I owned certain things I
didn’t have”
— Higher levels of materialism are associated with:
◦ higher levels of compulsive buying (Dittmar, 2005)
◦ lower levels of psychological adjustment and social
functioning (Kassler & Ryan 1993, 1996)
◦ higher levels of unhappiness (e.g., Belk, 1985; Kassler &
Ahuvia, 2002)


To do or to have? (van Boven &
Gilovich, 2003)

— Do experiences or possessions make us
— Experiential purchases: those made with
the intention of acquiring a life experience
◦ e.g., travel, going to a concert, skiing
— Material purchases: those made with the
intention of acquiring a material good
◦ e.g., watch, clothes, computer


van Boven & Gilovich (2003): Study 1

— Uni students
— Described and evaluated the most recent
purchase they had made for more than $100
◦ experiential or material purchase
◦ examples of responses:
– clothing, TVs (most considered these to be material)
– travel, concert tickets (most considered these to be
— Results: Participants reported that
experiential purchases made than happier
than material purchases


van Boven & Gilovich (2003): Study 2

— Community sample (large national phone survey)
— Were asked to:
◦ think about an experiential and a material purchase
they had made during their lifetime
◦ report which purchase makes them happier (could
choose “unsure”)
— Results:
◦ Overall, 57% said that the experiential purchase made
them happier than the material purchase
◦ The effect held across different demographic groups
– but weaker among lower income groups


van Boven & Gilovich (2003): Conclusion

— Happiness from consumption depends
on what people buy and consume
— Consumers should invest more in
consumption experiences as opposed to
material possessions
— Government should take experiences


Why do experiential purchases make
us happier than material purchases?

— Compared to material purchases,
experiential purchases are:
◦ more effective at promoting social relations and
connections (Gilovich et al., 2015)
◦ more likely to be incorporated into the selfconcept
(Carter & Gilovich, 2012)
◦ less likely to trigger social comparisons (e.g.,
Carter & Gilovich, 2010)
◦ less likely to be appraised in monetary terms
(Mann & Gilovich, 2014, cited in Gilovich et al.,


To have in order to do?

— Material purchases and experiential
purchases are a false dichotomy (Schmitt
et al., 2015)
◦ how would you classify a guitar, book,
— Experiential products: products that
afford a life experience
◦ Produces the same positive effects as
experiences (Gueverra & Howell, 2015)


Some unanswered questions

— Different aspects of happiness:
◦ happiness from pleasure (hedonia) vs. from
meaning (eudaimonia) (e.g., Ryan & Deci,
◦ momentary happiness vs. “afterglow”
— Effects of:
◦ reduced consumption (e.g., smaller
purchases; Dunn & Weidman 2015)
◦ underconsumption (i.e., thrift; Chancellor &
Lyubomirsky, 2011)