Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Study: For Greater Happiness, Spend Money on These

Researchers found people put more money on material goods, but emotional payoff is lower

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Buying so-called "life experiences" makes Americans happier than material goods such as cars, but they tend to favor the latter in the mistaken belief that they provide better value, according to a new study.

Researchers interviewed people before and after they made purchases and found that consumers felt life experiences -- like a weekend trip -- made them happier and were a better use of money than material items.

"People actually do know, and accurately predict, that life experiences will make them happier," study co-author Ryan Howell, an associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, said in a university news release.

"What they really underestimate is how much monetary value they will get out of a life experience," he added. "Even though they're told experiences will make them happier and they know experiences will make them happier, they still perceive material items as being a better value."

Part of the reason for this is that life experiences offer only memories, while people know the actual value of their material goods, said Howell, who has done extensive research on spending and happiness.

"We naturally associate economic value with stuff. I bought this car, it's worth $8,000," he explained. "We have a hard time estimating the economic value we would place on our memories."

The importance of this line of research goes far beyond shopping, according to the authors.

"Happiness is not some fleeting, positive emotion we experience in the moment," Howell said.

"There are tremendous benefits to happiness. Companies want their employees to be happier because they are more productive. Doctors want their patients to be happier because they will be healthier. We should try to figure out how to help people maximize their happiness because of all the benefits that come from it," he concluded.

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections