Hide your stuff if you want to be well liked. Or hang out with people even richer than you are. Of course, then you might not like your rich friends with all their expensive gadgets, luxury goods, and big houses.
People who pursue happiness through material possessions are liked less by their peers than people who pursue happiness through life experiences, according to a new study led by University of Colorado at Boulder psychology Professor Leaf Van Boven.
Van Boven has spent a decade studying the social costs and benefits of pursuing happiness through the acquisition of life experiences such as traveling and going to concerts versus the purchase of material possessions like fancy cars and jewelry.
"We have found that material possessions don't provide as much enduring happiness as the pursuit of life experiences," Van Boven said.
The "take home" message in his most recent study, which appears in this month's edition of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, is that not only will investing in material possessions make us less happy than investing in life experiences, but that it often makes us less popular among our peers as well.
This all reminds me of Geoffrey Miller's book Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior. People who buy high status goods overestimate the benefits these goods have on their status. Either people don't even notice the expensive watch or they resent you for owning it.
Take home lesson: Emphasize the trips you've been on in conversations. Or talk about near accidents or fist fights in bars or how you almost got mauled by a bear (one almost got me once btw). Stay away from talk about your second home or that 50 foot boat you've got parked down in Florida or the house boat on Lake Mead. Definitely absolutely do not mention your private island. We do not want to hear about it. Besides, I'll just tell you it is going to get wiped out by rising seas.
Okay, in the comments do you want to list some expensive possessions and make people hate you like you condescend and look down on their poor inferior asses? Or do you want to regale them with tales of how you almost died in the Kalahari desert or maybe in the Serengeti? Or maybe you escaped from kidnappers in Rio? If you bribed your way out of a prison in Mexico it implies you had the money need to do the bribery. So that's somewhat of a mixed bag.
War stories about Iraq or Afghanistan are better if a government sent you there at low pay as an enlisted man. If you went to the same area on your own dime it implies more wealth. Though if you are poor today that's probably okay to talk about.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2010 April 24 05:05 PM Brain Economics|