Which Experience Is Best For You? Enjoyment of Experiences Is Influenced By Life Priorities and Values

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Research website BeyondThePurchase.org finds that hedonists prefer fun, social activities, while self-actualizers prefer to patronize the arts.

Beyond The Purchase

What we see in this data is that knowing a person’s values can help them make spending choices that most appeal to them.

Spending money on life experiences makes people happier than spending money on material items; however, not all life experiences are created equal. What types of experiences are most likely to make people happy? Researchers at BeyondThePurchase.org are beginning to uncover the answers.

Using data from 142 adults who completed a values survey and an experiential preference survey, Beyond the Purchase was able to determine the top five most appealing activities:

1. A day trip/weekend vacation
2. A dining experience
3. Museums/galleries
4. A concert
5. Hiking

“We expected that vacations and dining experiences would be the two most appealing activities, as that converges with past research,” said Graham Hill, Community Manager of the site. “However, we were intrigued by the high ranking of museum and galleries, which placed as the third most appealing activity of the 34 activities we assessed.”

The researchers at Beyond the Purchase then determined there are also significant differences in the activities and experiences preferred by people of divergent value systems.

People who placed a greater emphasis on pleasure and hedonism in their lives tended to enjoy fun, social activities (e.g., comedy, theme parks, and bars). Interestingly, hedonists preferred these types of amusement more than adrenaline pumping activities such as surfing, skydiving, and white-water rafting.

At the other end of the spectrum, people who value personal development gravitated toward the arts (e.g., opera, museums, and art galleries) while avoiding the social, extraverted experiences preferred by hedonists.

“People are not always good at predicting what will make them happy” said Ryan Howell, Ph.D., co-founder of Beyond The Purchase and associate professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University. “What we see in this data is that knowing a person’s values can help them make spending choices that most appeal to them.”

BeyondThePurchase.org is an academic website dedicated to research and public education in the areas of consumer spending habits, well-being, and values. We encourage everyone to Register with Beyond The Purchase, and be a part of this exciting new research completely free of charge. You can take the Experiential Preferences Scale and the List of Values Scale which are two of the many surveys the public is invited to take at BeyondThePurchase.org.

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Graham Hill

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