Results of the study appear in the March issue of Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Clark said that these findings could help experts better assist those with hoarding issues or people who compulsively shop. And, she said that it can help in day-to-day living too. "If you understand what lies behind other people's impulses, you can better come up with a strategy to tackle that. If you have a spouse who's buying too much, instead of arguing about spending, a compliment might work better than pointing out how you don't need that item," said Clark.
"The take-home point from this study is that life satisfaction involves a great deal more than the acquisition of possessions," said Richard Morrissey, director for the Center for Psychological Services at St. John's University in New York City. "Things provide us with a sense of security, but if we feel secure in relationships, we can place less value on stuff."
Morrissey said therapy can help people change the way they're thinking and aid them in understanding that they don't need to purchase things to feel better.
"It's like the classic glass is half-full or half-empty scenario. Two people can look at the same situation and one looks at it in terms of what they don't have, while another sees the same situation in a different way. Don't measure life in a pessimistic way. No one knows what the future will bring, so it's not irrational to think the next day will be a good day," said Morrissey.
Learn more about the association between security, money and happiness from the American Psychological Association.
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