For one of the experiments in the study, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers surveyed study participants before and after they bought something. Before making the purchase, the participants said that they were aware that a life experience would bring them more happiness, but that it would make more sense financially to buy the material item.
But their opinions changed after making the purchase, researchers found. The participants said post-purchase that not only would happiness be greater with a life experience, but that the life experience was also a better value than the material item.
In another experiment, participants were asked to prioritize either value or happiness in purchasing something. Those asked to prioritize happiness were more likely to pick using their money for a life experience, while those asked to prioritize value were more likely to choose a material item.