Prior research suggests that material goods (e.g., electronic gadgets) often provide less happiness than do experiences (e.g., movies). As a boundary condition, the present research proposes a theory-based yet actionable solution to overcome the happiness disadvantage of material goods. Three studies show that when material goods are anthropomorphized (i.e., imbued with humanlike characteristics), consumers gain enhanced feelings of consumption sociality and, in turn, derive a boost in happiness such that they gain as much happiness from these material goods as from experiences. With mediation and moderation approaches, we provide process evidence for these enhanced feelings of consumption sociality that are typically lacking with material purchases, which are prone to being consumed alone rather than with other people. Thus, the present research suggests that even in the absence of other people, consumers can gain greater happiness from their material goods by perceiving them as human.
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This research is supported by the grant from Institute of Information & Communications Technology Planning & Evaluation (IITP) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2019-0-00050) awarded to the first author and the Outstanding Young Researcher Award by the University of Hong Kong awarded to the second author.
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The authors declare no competing interests.
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Lee, J.C., Kim, S. & Wang, P.X. Anthropomorphizing makes material goods as happiness-inducing as experiences. Mark Lett (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-021-09564-w
- Material purchases
- Experiential purchases
- Material disadvantage