Follow up on the purchasing experiences vs material goods research

Here’s a link to the CNN story that reported the findings that purchasing experiences make you happier than purchasing material goods. Here’s a quote:

The most striking difference was in how participants said others around them reacted to either the purchased object or experience. Experiences led to more happiness in others than purchases did. A sense of relatedness to others — getting closer to friends and family — may be one of the reasons why experiences generate more happiness.

“When people spend money on life experiences, whether they also take someone with them or buy an extra ticket or whatever, most of our life experiences involve other individuals,” Howell said. People were fulfilling their need for social bonding while having these experiences, he said. Visit, your connection for better living

Another reason for increased happiness in experiences, the researchers found, was that people felt a greater sense of vitality or “being alive” during the experience and in reflection, Howell said.

“As nice as your new computer is, it’s not going to make you feel alive,” he said.

Here’s the link to the full research paper on this study.

Here’s a second study that was performed at the University of Chicago, that suggests one other significant factor in whether experiential purchases made you happier was how the purchase turned out. If the purchase turned out positively, experiential purchases made subjects happier than material ones, but if the purchase turned out negatively, there was no difference in happiness for experiential vs material purchases.


Great article on Carol Dweck and her research

Here’s a great article on Carol Dweck and her research

Carol Dweck’s Attitude

Results from our first psychology experiment

Today, we completed our first psychology experiment. Students were randomly assigned 1 of 2 writing prompts:

  • Prompt A: Write about a time when you used money to purchase an experience .
  • Prompt B: Write about a time when you used money to purchase a material good.

Here are the full prompts:

After this, students were asked to complete a short survey about how their purchase affected their happiness.

I have included the results from the two different groups below.

Group A Responses: People who wrote about purchasing an experience.

Group B Responses: People who wrote about purchasing a material good.

So, scientists, how do you interpret these data? What conclusions can you make? Post your answers in the comments below!

Next meeting: Time to be a research subject

Dr Moore and I think that it is critical that you get some experience as a research subject before you become a psychology researcher. Therefore, we’re going to devote our next meeting to having you be a research subject. I’ve also created a poll to help us pick the best backwork in which to meet every week.

Meeting survey

Also, we are getting ready to start work on our research grant proposal. In order to participate in this you’ll need a gmail account. Once you create an account please complete this survey so that I can enter you in as an editor.

Gmail address form

2nd meeting summary

In today’s meeting, we discussed the two papers that were emailed out earlier. We divided up into 4 groups, and each group presented a summary of one of the studies in Dweck’s scientific papers. If you weren’t at the meeting, I’ve inculded the reading questions below. It would be great if one or two people could take a moment to post summaries of the last two studies, which we did not get to, in the comments below.

How not to talk to your kids:

  1. Who were the subjects of this study?
  2. What is the question Dweck was trying to answer in this study?
  3. What was the difference in the treatment that subjects in this study received?
  4. What differences in outcomes did Dweck find for different treatments?
  5. What is the difference between growth and fixed mindset? How was Dweck able to distinguish the two in the study?
  6. Can you think of any follow up questions Dweck might have been able to study?
  7. What questions do you have after reading this article?

Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance.

  1. What are the ways in which Dweck hypothesizes ability praise can negatively affect children?
  2. Who were the participants in Dweck’s studies?
  3. Describe each of the 6 studies Dweck performed. What was the central question or goal of each study? You will be assigned one study to read about and explain to the group at large.
  4. What is the meaning of “blind,” as in “experimenters remained bling to children’s goal choices?” why is this important?
  5. Are there any terms or procedures which you did not understand?

How not to talk to your kids



Dweck’s latest work—You have as much willpower as you think you do

I saw this headline in Science Daily, and I thought “gee, this sounds like Dweck’s research,” and sure enough, it looks like Dweck is extending her research about fixed and growth mindset to ask questions about willpower. Here’s a key finding:

If you think of willpower as something that’s biologically limited, you’re more likely to be tired when you perform a difficult task,” said Veronika Job, the paper’s lead author. “But if you think of willpower as something that is not easily depleted, you can go on and on.

Now, test your growing understanding of pyschology research. How do you think Prfoessor Dweck’s students were able to measure this effect? Who did they study?

You can read the Science Daily Article here:

Need a Study Break to Refresh? Maybe Not, Say Researchers.

Here’s a link to the article abstract. I will post the full article once I can find access to it.

article link:

Ego Depletion—Is it all in your head?


You can buy the book

If you’re looking for something to read, Professor Dweck has written a book on Mindset that is fabulous, and a pretty quick read. I highly recommend it, and would be happy to loan my copy. I think the library has a few copies, or you could buy it from Amazon.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success