Extant literature suggests that consumers derive more happiness from experiences (e.g., vacations) than from material possessions (e.g., furniture). However, this literature typically pits material against experiential consumption, treating them as a single bipolar construct of their relative dominance: more material or more experiential. This focus on relative dominance leaves unanswered questions regarding how different levels of material and experiential qualities each contribute to happiness. Four preregistered studies (N = 3,288), using hundreds of product categories, measured levels of material and experiential qualities using two unipolar items. These studies investigate recalled, evoked, and anticipated happiness. Results show a more nuanced view of the experiential advantage that is critical for future research and consumer theory: material and experiential qualities both have positive relationships with happiness. Further, there is no inherent trade-off between experiential and material qualities: consumers can enjoy consumption that is high on both (e.g., swimming pools and home improvements).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology