By Claire Bates


Spending money on once in a lifetime experiences from luxury holidays to concert tickets won't make you happy, according to a surprise study.

But before you cancel that world cruise it's worth noting that you'll only fail to find contentment if your motive is to impress others.

'Why you buy is just as important as what you buy,' said assistant profressor Ryan Howell, from San Francisco State University, who led the study.

'When people buy life experiences to impress others, it wipes out the well-being they receive from the purchase. That extrinsic motivation appears to undermine how the experiential purchase meets their key psychological needs.'

Blissful holiday: As long as you're not just trying to impress someone else

Blissful holiday: As long as you're not just trying to impress someone else

Howell's previous findings showed that buying a life experience made people happier than when they bought material things, because it made them feel more competent and connected to others.

However, in the latest research Howell and his colleagues found that a person's motivation for making a purchase predicts whether these needs will be met.

After surveying 241 participants they found that people who choose to buy life experiences because they were in line with their desires, interests and values reported a greater sense of fulfillment and well-being. They were also less likely to feel lonely and had a greater sense of vitality.

However, people who chose life experiences to gain recognition from others reported feeling unsatisfied and less connected to others.

'The biggest question you have to ask yourself is why you are buying something,' Howell said.

'Motivation appears to amplify or eliminate the happiness effect of a purchase.'

The study has been published in the aptly named, Journal of Happiness Studies.

Here's what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Money would make me happy! Not having to worry about how am I going to pay this bill or where do I find the money so I can get to and from work the week before pay day. Having the money and not the worries. Bliss

Being content is crucial for happiness. Having a meaningful purpose outside of ones own self is important. Having enough to meet needs without worry is what money can bring. Poverty on the other hand, who is content to dwell there ?

Another echo from the land of Duh.

I've never had a lot of money and lost my husband when I was quite young and never wanted anyone else so it's just me and my resuce dog. I was so happy to resuce him and am at my happiest when I take him for his long walk each day and watch him being happy. I feel really good that I gave him hope when he had none. Sounds dumb, I know, but that's how I feel.

More dumb 'research' from the USA. You would have to be an extremely shallow my mother... to only spend money to impress other people. It is something that has never crossed my mind, perhaps because I grew up poor and yet if my mother ever had any money she would buy status items rather than pay for heating or other necessities that people couldn't SEE.

Is this article talking about the people on social networking who post a 50-picture album of their vacations (Doctor's wives being the most annoying about it)? I think so. Having to see people's vacation photos used to be a form of punishment, now people do it willingly on FB. Its pathetic. True happiness doesn't come from vacations, but from helping others.

My dream is to go on a well deserved holiday, somewhere nice and hot after working my a$$ off! I havent been abroad since 2007! To relax, take in the sights, experience the culture and chill out is a dream of mine and I know exactly where I want to go! I want this for me as I need the time out from everyday life.

The experts say that money can't make you happy. OK, fair enough that is their view. I would be willing to prove them wrong if they funded it all in the interests of science of course.

If money can't buy happiness at least it makes misery comfortable

People who spend money only to impress others are never going to be happy - needing approval from others indicates a lack of self-esteem. You need to be at ease with yourself to be happy. And being at ease with yourself has nothing to do with money.

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