Money can't make you happy... if you are only spending it to impress others
Next time you plan to buy an expensive ticket to a concert, stop for a moment and ask just why you want to buy it. If you feel that you are buying it to impress others then you may as well avoid buying the ticket because not only will the ticket burn a hole in your pocket but also make you feel miserable about yourself.
"Why you buy is just as important as what you buy. 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," said Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.
Buying experiences more than material things, many studies have said, brings happiness to people. It makes people confident, competent and autonomous. It also brings a sense of being connected to others. Buying life-experiences like a ticket to a game, a concert or a holiday only to impress others makes people feel the opposite of "feel good factors" associated with buying.
This small study group included about 250 people. Researchers asked them to describe their motivation before buying. People who bought experiences because it fulfilled a certain desire were more likely to rate themselves as autonomous, happy people. But the other set of people who bought these experiences just to impress others often felt less happy and competent.
According to the researchers, the reason that people attach to buying a thing will greatly reflect on the feeling afterwards. Nobody would really want to buy an expensive item, only to feel miserable later.
"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."
Another related research suggests that people who spend money on others report greater satisfaction than people who buy things for themselves.