Want to make me happy? Tell me about your experiences but not your objects

Wilson Bastos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence indicates that experiences bring greater benefits to consumers than objects. Extending this research beyond the actual purchaser, this work examines individuals who experience the purchase only indirectly via a conversation—listeners. It explores how conversations about experiential versus material purchases affect listeners socially and emotionally. Results show that hearing about others' experiences (vs. objects) advances listeners' happiness more. This finding shows that the scope of experiential purchases' advantage is wider than previously known. Further, this work identifies a sequential mechanism: Conversations about experiences (vs. objects) are more substantive, allowing listeners to build stronger social connections with tellers and, in turn, gain more happiness from the interaction. Critically, this mechanism explains the effect above and beyond a previously-advanced mechanism via perceived motivation. Additionally, this work identifies a boundary of the model: purchase valence. Theoretical and practical implications for managers, consumers, and policymakers are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-1001
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Consumer Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Experiential purchase
  • Happiness
  • Material purchase


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