Ownership or Taking Action: Which Is More Important for Happiness?


In two studies (2010 and 2011), more than 2000 respondents living in Japan were asked whether they gained more happiness from ownership or from taking action. In the 2010 study, many more individuals preferred taking action to ownership; this preference was greater in women than in men and in older people than in younger people. Reasons for this preference were plainly ex-pressed in respondents’ free writing, and a categorical distinction between ownership and taking action was readily recognized and widely shared. Social desirability concerns probably did not play a role in responses. In the 2011 study, many individuals valued action more than ownership as like as the 2010 study. The preference for taking action over ownership was greater in women than in men, in older people than in younger people, and in people with higher levels of education than in people with lower levels of education. There was no relationship with annual income. The correlations with gender and level of education were similar to results of comparable studies conducted in the USA, although in the US studies, experiential purchases were evaluated, rather than taking action; however, the correlation with age was uncertain in the US studies. Further studies with US respondents will be necessary to examine this correlation. Possible reasons why many more people preferred happiness gained from taking action to happiness experienced from ownership were discussed.

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Hayase, K. & Ura, M. (2015). Ownership or Taking Action: Which Is More Important for Happiness?. Psychology, 6, 734-751. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.66072.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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