Can shopping bring happiness and, if so, when?
Spenders rejoice, it seems money can buy you happiness, as long as you buy something that suits your personality.
Conducted by researchers at Cambridge Judge Business School and the Psychology Department of Cambridge University, UK, the team of researchers worked with a UK-based multinational bank to look at 76,863 spending transactions from the bank accounts of 625 participants.
So transactions could be matched with different personalities, participants were also asked to complete a standard personality and life satisfaction questionnaire.
The team then put the answers in to the “Big Five” personality traits which include openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
After matching the spending transactions to these personality traits, the researchers found that those who spent money on purchases that suited their personality — for example an extroverted person spending money on a night in the pub, or conscientiousness person spending on “health and fitness” — reported greater life satisfaction.
In fact spending money on purchases that suited your personality had an even stronger link with life satisfaction than total spending, and even total income.
And the team’s second study also supports these initial findings. When participants were given a voucher to spend in either a bookshop or at a bar, extroverts were happier when spending in the bar than introverts, and introverts were happier when spending in the bookshop than extroverts.
Previous studies have only found a weak link between money and well-being, however the team believes this new study provides some groundbreaking findings, and suggest that spending money can indeed buy happiness, as long as the purchases match our personalities and in turn meet our psychological needs.
Commenting on the significance of the findings Sandra Matz, one of study’s co-authors said, “Our findings suggest that spending money on products that help us express who we are as individuals could turn out to be as important to our well-being as finding the right job, the right neighborhood or even the right friends and partners. By developing a more nuanced understanding of the links between spending and happiness, we hope to be able to provide more personalized advice on how to find happiness through the little consumption choices we make every day.”
The study can be found online in the journal Psychological Science.