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Having it All Really Won't Make You Happy, Science Confirms

May 12, 2015 02:49 AM EDT
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Your standard shopping-bag toting, latest-trend adhering, newest gadget-owning friend may not be as happy as they let on. New research out from Baylor University shows that the more materialistic a person is, the more likely they are to be depressed and unsatisfied with life.

According to a study just published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Personality and Individual Differences, materialistic people are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their lot in life, finding it harder to be grateful for what they have.

While this might all seem like common sense, it is interesting to see this behavioral phenomenon confirmed with an empirical study.

According to the study, researchers from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, assessed the happiness and materialistic tendencies of 246 undergraduate marketing students from their university. The average age of the participants was 21 and the male to female ratio was nearly 1 to 1.

All the participants were asked to complete a 15-minute online survey that asked questions measuring personality traits such as materialism, gratitude, current need satisfaction, and current life satisfaction.

Predictably, the students who were more likely to be materialistic also proved to be less satisfied with life. Those who gave answers suggesting low levels of gratitude and a high need satisfaction played into this phenomenon, proving the to be the most materialistic and least satisfied with life.

Co-author James Roberts explains that this occurs in materialistic people because of a phenomenon called the "Treadmill of Consumption."

"As we amass more and more possessions, we don't get any happier, we simply raise our reference point," he said in a statement.

He went on to add that need satisfaction is never met in some people because their minds are simply too efficient at adapting to the new situation, setting a new goal of need even before the rewards of meeting the first goals are felt.

For example, the elation of getting the new iPhone becomes completely smothered in the realization that you need new headphones and case to go with it, and maybe a new laptop, and maybe the new iPad... the one you have is so out of date compared to your phone... and on and on it goes.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

- follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS

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