Buying Experiences Is Less Stressful Than Buying Real Stuff

Although the below was valid pre-pandemic, I wonder if because we only have intangible experiences now — because we don’t move through the physical world as much as we did before — that the perceptual differences described below don’t as readily apply.

Waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good (and more “pleasantness” too—an eerie metric). By contrast, waiting for a possession is more likely fraught with impatience than anticipation.

—James Hamblin, The Atlantic

Waiting for having versus waiting for using is different. That makes sense because having takes energy; but using is only momentary and so you can quickly let it go

—JM’s takeaway

Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money
spent on having). Although most research comparing these two types of purchases has focused on their downstream hedonic consequences, the present research investigated hedonic differences that occur before consumption. We argue that waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions. Four studies demonstrate that people derive more happiness from the anticipation of experiential purchases and that waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good. We found these effects in studies using questionnaires involving a variety of actual planned purchases, in a large-scale experience-sampling study, and in an archival analysis of news stories about people waiting in line to make a purchase. Consumers derive value from anticipation, and that value tends to be greater for experiential than for material purchases.

—Kumar et al paper abstract

Waiting for *having* versus waiting for *using* is different. That makes sense because *having* takes energy; but *using* is only momentary and so you can quickly let it go