Purchasing experiences like massage therapy brings the purchaser greater happiness than does buying things, new research indicates.

Experiences result in an increased feeling of well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality, the feeling of being alive.

“These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the greatest well-being,” said Ryan Howell, researcher and assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.

Experiences also lead to longer-term satisfaction. “Purchased experiences provide memory capital,” Howell said. “We don’t tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object.

“People still believe that more money will make them happy, even though 35 years of research has suggested the opposite,” he added. “Maybe this belief has held because money is making some people happy some of the time, at least when they spend it on life experiences.”