Shopping doesn’t make people as happy as money does, says study

Money gives lasting jolt of oxytocin.

By Raif Kareratshoping

WASHINGTON, DC: A neuroeconomist recently informed The Wall Street Journal that shopping does not necessarily make people happy, but money certainly does.

According to Dr. Paul Zak, his research at the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies involves measuring brain activity “while people make decisions involving money and other people.”

In one particular study on shopping, shoppers received a surprise award when they checked out consisting of either $40 in cash or a gift of handmade chocolate.

The people who got the cash experienced an immediate and lasting jolt of oxytocin, the love and connection hormone in the brain.

When WSJ’s Tanya Rivero asked Zak whether shopping created feelings of happiness on its own, Zak indicated it does not.

“It was stressful when you shopped, you had a budget you had to meet, you’re shopping under time pressure, and it wasn’t really fun,” Zak explained in general terms.

According to a study performed by Ryan Howell, and associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, earlier this year, people think material purchases offer better value for the money because experiences are fleeting, and material goods last longer.

However, Howell found that when people looked back at their purchases, they realized that experiences actually provided better value.

“What we find is that there’s this huge misforecast,” he told WSJ in November 2014. “People think that experiences are only going to provide temporary happiness, but they actually provide both more happiness and more lasting value.”

And yet we still keep on buying material things, he says, because they’re tangible and we think we can keep on using them.

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