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Which Shoppers Are Happiest?

Hey Big Spender, It Isn't You -- and It's Not the Bargain Maven or Penny Pincher, Either
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 14, 2008 -- Your shopping style may be a window on your happiness -- and what you spend on may matter more than how much you shell out.

It turns out that the happiest shoppers aren't those who bag the biggest bargains, or those who spend whatever it takes to get the best items out there, or people whose wallets are gathering dust while they pinch their pennies.

The happiest shoppers are people who aren't hung up on money or things. They'd rather spend on experiences, like dining out or traveling.

Those people are "experiencers," as Miriam Tatzel, PhD, of Empire State College in New York calls them.

Tatzel asked 329 college students to complete surveys about their shopping habits and happiness. Those surveys showed four shopping personalities:

  • Big spenders: Buy everything full price and buy only the best.
  • Value seekers: Seek bargains on nice things.
  • Non-spenders: Don't spend much and don't want to.
  • Experiencers: Spend freely on experiences, such as good food or travel, but not materialistic.

Experiencers are the happiest; big spenders are the least happy -- and have the most credit card debt, Tatzel reports.

She presented her findings today in Boston at the American Psychological Association's annual conference. Those findings don't show which comes first -- shopping style or degree of happiness.

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