Going to a Concert Could Make You More Likable

As we told you earlier this week, many studies have shown that buying material things makes us less happy than investing in experiences does. Well, it seems being materialistic also makes other people like us less.

To test this, a team of researchers randomly paired up students who didn’t know each other and asked them talk for 15 to 20 minutes. When asked about their conversations afterward, those who discussed material possessions said they liked their partners less than did those who talked about investing in a life experience. The students who had conversations about material items also said they were less interested in forming a friendship with their partner.

It turns out we tend to think of materialistic people as selfish and self-centered, while we see those who value experiences as more altruistic, friendly, and outgoing. And it has also been shown that materialistic people tend to have lower-quality and less-satisfying relationships. Could there a connection here? The researchers think so:

Materialistic people are stigmatized—perhaps rightfully so—as having undesirable personality traits, as being extrinsically motivated, and hence as being relatively less likable. The stigmatization of materialism means that being associated with materialistic behavior can lead people to be liked less, which makes friendship formation more difficult. (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin)

So there’s a real cost to being seen as materialistic, says University of Colorado at Boulder psychologist Leaf Van Boven. As he notes in a write-up of the research:

The mistake we can sometimes make is believing that pursuing material possessions will gain us status and admiration while also improving our social relationships. In fact, it seems to have exactly the opposite effect. This is really problematic because we know that having quality social relationships is one of the best predictors of happiness, health and well-being (University of Colorado Boulder).

Category: Findings


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