So you have a spare five hundred dollars. What do you buy, a laptop or a island vacation?
If you are looking for some lasting happiness, go with the vacation.
A number of recently published studies focused on the happiness of experience vs. material goods. What was found in a general sense was that due to the personal experience of a vacation, excursion, etc... those experiences are better equipped to prolong happiness than say scooping up the new iPhone 5.
Have you ever bought a new computer or appliance and wondered if you made the right choice? Ever been upset because after you bought it the price went down? We don't do that with an experience like ziplining or horseback riding, you enjoy the experience and look back on it fondly for the most part.
The studies found that people have less angst over experiential purchases as it is a personalized experience and there is less opportunity to compare our experiences in a competitive light.
In one study 142 study subjects were asked to recall a purchase they made that was at least $50 in cost. The subjects that reported thinking of a material object were more prone to worrying over the choice and also had less prolonged satisfaction regarding that choice.
This is obviously a small sample size so I am interested to hear from anyone who has had an opposite reaction. Any takers?