Tuesday 22 December 2015 9:28 am

Can money buy happiness? Material possessions make you happy in a different way to experiences, scientists say

It's the thought that counts when it comes to buying Christmas gifts – and while the old adage might suggest money can't buy you happiness, a new study seems to have contradicted that, finding that splashing the cash on material possessions really can cheer you up.

Buying a new coffee maker, portable speakers or even some reindeer leggings, brings you just as much happiness as, say, a ski trip, scientists say. However, the happiness gained from buying things versus that experiences is a different type, according to the study, by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

The material things bring happiness repeatedly over time after the purchase, while experiences bring a more intense happiness at the time, but it doesn't last as long.

Read more: The Happy Forecast: London's happiest areas mapped in stunning 3D

“The decision of whether to buy a material thing or a life experience may therefore boil down to what kind of happiness one desires,” said co-author of the study published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, Aaron Weidman.

Participants in the study were asked to keep a diary following either a purchase or an experiential gift received at Christmas, noting how it made them feel. 

"Consider a holiday shopper deciding between tickets to a concert or a new couch in the living room," said Weidman.

"The concert will provide an intense thrill for one spectacular night, but then it will end, and will no longer provide momentary happiness, aside from being a happy memory. In contrast, the new couch will never provide a thrilling moment to match the concert, but will keep the owner snug and comfortable each day throughout the winter months.”