Doing What You Love Has Big Social Payoff

It would appear that what TPOH has been saying is finally catching on: doing what you love with people you care about has a greater emotional — and social — payoff than just accumulating stuff.  Attachment to people, not things, is more fulfilling.

It would seem obvious, but a study from the American Psychological Association is tapping into new evidence to measure this theory.

A series of studies tested whether people are more grateful for what they have done rather than what they have; whether they are more motivated to mention gratitude after an experience than an acquisition of a possession; and whether experiential consumption makes people more generous than material purchases.

The authors found that experiences trigger a greater sense of appreciation of one’s own circumstances, and individuals more frequently express gratitude for things they experienced, not things they have.

Why does this happen? “Keeping up with the Joneses” has apparently exhausted itself.

‘One other reason for this increased gratitude may be because experiences trigger fewer social comparisons than material possessions,’ says first author Jesse Walker, a psychology graduate student.

Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, and his team reportedly found that experience also causes more “pro-social behavior.”

An economic game showed that thinking about a meaningful experiential purchase caused participants to behave more generously toward others than when they thought about a material purchase.

This link between gratitude and altruistic behavior is intriguing, ‘because it suggests that the benefits of experiential consumption apply not only to the consumers of those purchases themselves, but to others in their orbit as well,’ says coauthor Amit Kumar, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.

Read more about the Cornell study at Futurity.