For some, wanting is better than having

Materialist consumers are more likely than others to believe that an upcoming purchase would transform their lives in meaningful ways.

Will that new car really make you happy?

Certain consumers love desiring, so much so that they derive greater pleasure from desiring products than they do from actually buying them. This propensity makes them willing to overspend and they don’t mind taking on debt too because they believe that future purchases will bring them happier, reveals a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

But does acquisition actually make them happier?

“Thinking about acquisition provides momentary happiness boosts to materialistic people, and because they tend to think about acquisition a lot, such thoughts have the potential to provide frequent mood boosts. But the positive emotions associated with acquisition are short-lived. Although materialists still experience positive emotions after making a purchase, these emotions are less intense than before they actually acquire a product,” writes author Marsha L. Richins (University of Missouri).

In three different studies, when compared to other consumers, materialists reported significantly stronger positive emotions when thinking about an important future purchase. This was true for both expensive items like cars and cheaper items like household electronics. It also didn’t matter whether they anticipated making the purchase within a few weeks or a year or so in the future.

Materialists tended to believe that an important new acquisition will improve their relationships with other people, enhance the way they feel about themselves, enable them to have more pleasure in life, and allow them to carry out life tasks more effectively. The intensity of the happiness boost that a materialist experiences before a purchase is directly related to the extent to which they expect these transformations to occur.

“Materialists are more likely to overspend and have credit problems, possibly because they believe that acquisitions will increase their happiness and change their lives in meaningful ways. Learning that acquisition is less pleasurable than anticipating a purchase may help them delay purchases until they are better able to afford them,” the author concludes.



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