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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Are you Materialistic or Experiential?


An article in today's New York Times asks "If you had $1,000 to splurge, would you buy French doors for the living room or a weekend vacation in France?" (I question either being accomplished for a thousand Simoleons.) It seems if your answer was "doors" you are a Materialistic buyer who values possessions over experiences. You are likely to be "less happy" and to be seen as shallow by your peers. Experiential purchasers, those who spend on travel and fine dining, tend "to get along better with others and feel less anxiety in social situations."

Two recent studies examining the psychology of buying posit that Experientials are bigger risk takers and Materialistics are lonely agoraphobic losers (I extrapolate). As part of one study, role-playing subjects found Experientials "to get along better with others and feel less anxiety in social situations." I suppose if you don't give a good gaddamn that you own a sofa from Ashley Furniture, then, yeah, you probably are the life of your kegger party. Sporting polar fleece at the newest Thai/Mexicali fusion joint doesn't make you a better person, it makes you the annoying dude who, uninvited, waxes poetic about jalapeno pho.

Lying awake nights mentally arranging and rearranging the living room or plotting how to nab a primo spot in the Prada sample sale line sharpens the mind. Afternoons spent stalking designer showrooms and vintage stores quickens the reflexes. I dare anyone to question the HQ (Happiness Quotient) of finding a Beni Ouarain marked at $400 in a dusty back corner of a rug importer's warehouse. And design bloggers have the widest social circles I know.

What say you, Dumplings? Are you a Materialistic or an Experiential buyer - if you're reading this blog do I even have to ask? If you're the former, would you describe yourself as shallow, introverted, socially anxious and less of a risk taker?

Photos via The Foo Dog Ate My Homework and ABC News.

I Buy, Therefore I Am (Unless I Return It) [The New York Times]

27 comments:

Jessica said...

I think I'd like the daily experience of sitting in my living room with awesome French doors.

m e g a n a l i n a said...

Raina, you're on a roll! This is my second comment of the day because when you said "someone gave you $1,000" my thoughts went immediately to a Beni Ouarain!!! Ahhh!!! How about I choose the $1,000 to fly me to Morocco (as if it would ever cost that little getting over there) and then spend my own hard earned moolah on the rug? I tend to agree with Jessica and her comment too.

Megan

Nita {ModVintageLife} said...

Ridiculous! Of course I'd go with the french doors and I am known to be the life of the party and have many many friends. But...I'd choose the thing that I can enjoy the rest of my life over the thing that I'll only enjoy a week. Of course I'd like to do both but the question was either....so yes...french doors for me!

m e g a n a l i n a said...

And I should add I am a little offended by that article assuming I am materialistic who is less happy, shallow, and less of a risk taker! :)

My Interior Life said...

I think you know my answer, and I question the validity of these so-called "studies." I think there's some kind of bias there. Of course, I love to travel but I would much rather have something I can enjoy for years. By the way, love the photo of the "happy" tourists, and the Ashley furniture reference had me cackling. Perfect.

Appletree said...

I'm not very good with money, so I would probably do both.

The Pink Pagoda said...

Materialist all the way! And if you'd blow your money on a trip instead you have impulsivity issues : )

Robin said...

Which am I if I would use it to pay down my Visa bill? Or get new tires?

Raina Cox said...

m e g a n a l i n a - Thanks, Babe!

Robin - You are practical.

David said...

The experience of outbidding someone at an auction and scoring something great proves one can be both.

Nick Klaus said...

I spend more of my money on things than experiences, but the reason isn't all that simple. It's not "buying makes me happy", its not even "the thrill of buying things makes me happy" it's pretty much what Jessica said... I enjoy the experience of being around things I love that I have bought.

Maybe the people who spend money on experiences are doing it because their joy lies in being somewhere else. I'm happy where I am, and I'm happy when I make my space better.

The Down East Dilettante said...

France, darling.

Luna Landing said...

This makes me see red. I can't help it if I'm so tied to aesthetics that the right 'element' in my house makes me genuinely happy. - thats my nature. Those experiential types (like the ones who'd rather climb a mountain than paint the wall a new colour are NOT morally superior.
Thats what I think :)
Plus no way could you do either for $1000

brismod said...

As if I didn't feel socially inadequate already. Now there's a study to prove it! The ultimate would be to go to France and buy those French doors obviously...xx

xoxo said...

Whenever I see the phrase, "studies have shown", I immediately disregard the information. French doors for sure!

Margaret said...

I'm just wondering if the writer got paid for this "article."

5th and State said...

total crap, life is not so black & white.
i say go to france, have a walloping good time, and ship the doors you scored at a brocante.
debra

sowhatelse said...

In the Fall, it would be the French doors, and in the Spring it would be France.

crisangsteninteriors.com said...

I think if they changed the figure to $10k, it would be more realistic. For 10k, I'd go to France. For 1k... I'd reupholster my living room furniture.

Bri@Meyouandawiener said...

So now wanting to spend extra money buying new doors/windows to make the value of your house go up and perhaps make your financial future a lot better is considered materialistic. In that case we should all just live in a van down by the river.

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

For a grand, I would totally have my sofa reupholstered and lay on it with my dog eating a big bowl of popcorn and watching a sappy movie. Proud and happy introvert!!

Teri said...

I would take the trip, because I really, really need a break right now. But, think the studio is seriously off. I think that there is a big difference between blowing money on things that are temporary and spending money on things that will enrich your life. I have some expensive things that most wouldn't spend the money on, but that I love and they enrich my life. I think Experiential can be just as shallow, shy, selfish people as those who are Materialistic.

ChrisToronto said...

Color me materialistic. I can take it.

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Life goes in stages -- wax and wane, whine and want, etc...
Sometimes I'm feeling more "cast off and castaway," others a bling thing is the only jones that will fit the bill.
The NYT editorial is clearly on a downward slide -- now if only the WSJ would kick it up a notch.
Cheesr, Alcira

nerochronicles.com

Gabrielle | Savvy Home said...

What if I split the $1000 down the middle and spent half on a small piece of furniture, and half on a small weekend getaway or a nice dinner? What does that make me?

Raina Cox said...

Gabrielle - Balanced.

Bromeliad said...

Yeah, and yeah, I am an introverted shallow chicken.