Would you rather — think about vacation or a new smartphone? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Would you rather — think about vacation or a new smartphone?

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NBC News - Before the latest video game or smartphone goes on sale, people line up for days (hello, iPhone 6!), anticipating its arrival. Often that leads to pushing, shoving, and sometimes punching — even when there is enough supply to go around. 

Wait. Owning lots of cool stuff, especially the latest gadget, is supposed to make us happy. So why do we throw out so much negative energy when we're anticipating a purchase? 

We're impatient and often behave badly when we anticipate buying stuff, more than when we anticipate purchasing an experience like a vacation, according to a report from Cornell University released this week. In other words, money spent on doing makes us happier than money spent on having, the researchers found.

That may seem obvious to some and counter-intuitive to others (retail therapy lovers, for example), but the new research is a reminder how experiences connect us to others and help make us who we are, the researchers say. That's why spending money on an event or activity— a concert, skiing or going to an amusement park —leaves us feeling better than thinking about buying a tangible item.

“In thinking about how something is building your autobiography, that can be exciting in a way that thinking about a … material good can't match,” says Thomas Gilovich, the Irene Blecker Rosenfeld Professor of Psychology at Cornell.

Gilovich and colleagues conducted four studies. In one, they asked 97 college students to think about spending on an experience or a thing. The subjects ranked whether they felt impatient or excited. While people felt good about spending on both, regardless of cost, those who considered purchasing an experience felt more excitement and less impatience.
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