Fashion Lesson- Materialistic Buyers vs. Experiential Consumers, Which One Are You?

Are you a practical shopper or a frivolous one? When faced with the daunting task of picking between a new pair of heels and a trip or a toaster oven, what you end up walking away with says more about who you are as a person than you think.

According to a recent psychology study, people who spent money on food, travel and other experiences tend to be more extroverted and adventurous than those who spent their money on material things. Another study found that materialistic buyers were less happy, and even less liked, than experiential consumers.

In the first study, conducted by researchers at San Francisco State University, nearly 10,000 people answered online questionnaires about their personality type (like how extroverted or introverted they were) and their purchasing habits. Correlating the results, the researchers calculated that about 6 in 10 of experiential spenders had overall life satisfaction versus about 4 in 10 of material ones. Experiential spenders also tended to get along better with others and feel less anxiety in social situations.

The results were published this January in the Journal of Positive Psychology. (The original surveys are on beyondthepurchase.org, which is financed by the Oregon Community Foundation.)

Experiential consumers are risk takers, said Ryan Howell, an assistant professor at San Francisco State and the study’s lead researcher. “You are taking a bigger risk on a night at a new restaurant or play,” he said. “You can’t return a trip or a meal the way you can return something from a store.”

The study echoed similar findings by researchers at the University of Colorado who found that materialistic buyers were less well-liked by their peers than experiential buyers were. In that study, published in 2010 in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, participants viewed enactments, in which actors played the role of either a experiential or materialistic consumer. Participants said they found the experiential shoppers more charismatic and wanted to spend time with them. By comparison, they found the materialistic shoppers shallow.

Told of the studies, Brandon Holley, the editor in chief of Lucky, the shopping magazine published by Condé Nast, said she struggled with the two kinds of buying herself. “There’s an $1,800 Prada dress I want right now,” she said. “Do I spend it or take three weekends in Montauk?”

Still, she said, “When I think back on my life of things that stand out, I think of my trip to Alaska with my parents, or to Costa Rica with a boyfriend.” She later added, “But the immediate rush of getting that YSL bootie is also pretty great.” [NYT]

magdashop5Images VIA FashionGoneRogue

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