Spending on experiences than on material may make us generous

New York, Nov 15 (IANS) Experience rather than possession is more likely to give individuals a greater sense of gratitude, and will also make them more generous towards others, a study involving an Indian-origin researcher has found.

Our deeds mean more to us. “We feel more gratitude for what we’ve done than for what we have,” said Thomas Gilovich, Professor of psychology at the Cornell University.

“Think about how you feel when you come home from buying something new,” Gilovich said in the study published in the journal, Emotion.

“You might say: this new couch is cool, however, you’re less likely to say: I’m so grateful for that set of shelves.

“But when you come home from a vacation, you are likely to say: I feel so blessed I got to go,” he said.

“People say positive things about the stuff they buy, but they don’t usually express gratitude for it, or they don’t express it as often as they do for their experiences,” Gilovich added.

The researchers looked at 1,200 customer reviews, half for experiential purchases like restaurant meals and hotel stays and half for material purchases like furniture and clothing.

Reviewers were more likely to spontaneously mention feeling grateful for experiential purchases than material ones, the study suggested.

“One of the reason for this increased gratitude may be because experiences trigger fewer social comparisons than material possessions.

“Consequently, experiences are more likely to foster a greater appreciation of one’s own circumstances,” said Jesse Walker, Researcher at the Cornell University.

The researchers also looked at how gratitude for experiences versus material purchases affected pro-social behaviour.

In a study involving an economic game, they found that thinking about a meaningful experiential purchase caused participants to behave more generously toward others than when they thought about a material purchase.

“This link between gratitude and altruistic behaviour is intriguing,” said Amit Kumar, Researcher at the University of Chicago.

“It suggests that the benefits of experiential consumption apply not only to the consumers of those purchases themselves, but to others in their orbit as well,” Kumar said.

Feeling gratitude increased happiness and social cohesion, better health outcomes, and even improved sleep quality, the study revealed.

–IANS

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