Consumerism has a bad name, and recently has been suggested as a reason for teenagers stealing trainers during the London riots.
So it is therefore intriguing to see a new paper from Fabio Sabitini at the University of Rome’s Department of Economics and Law looking at the link between happiness and online shopping. The paper is based on data on Italian well-being and internet shopping habits – and finds that there is a positive correlation between e-shopping and reported happiness.
A somewhat unexpected result. However, a clue to understanding what is going on here is the paper’s mention of the fact that online purchases often involve experiences such as holidays. Previous research has suggested that spending money on experiences often makes you happier than consumption goods, which you adapt to more quickly than you expect (see Dan Ariely’s Upside of Irrationality for a good explanation of this).
So don’t bother with the new sofa – go on holiday instead. And looters: you’ll get bored of those trainers quicker than you think.
The full paper, “Can a click buy a little happiness?”, is here: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/32393/1/MPRA_paper_32393.pdf