Analysis: The Real Results Of The Van Boven/Gilovich Study

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The Real Results of the Van Boven/Gilovich Study
Does experience provide more happiness than material goods? A research study done by Van Boven and Gilovich (2003) explores this question by surveying and performing experiments on different populations. A press article, written by Dr. Dean (2008), presents an argument on this topic using the study as reference. While the press article conveys a message similar to that of the study, its technical inaccuracies, overgeneralizations, and its claim detract from its credibility and accuracy. Despite some similarities, the press article differs greatly from the study because firstly, its title contains an important distinction from the stated purpose of the study. The claim of the press article’s
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The greatest flaw in the article is its title (Dean 2008), which contains a word that is not often used in science: cause (or causation). Causation implies a direct, known, cause and effect relationship with a point that has been proven (Myers & DeWall, 2016). While the experiment did link experiential purchases to increased happiness (when compared against materialism), it did not link materialism to unhappiness. The press article also fails to include an operational definition, or a precise definition of a concept or procedure, of materialism (Myers & DeWall, 2016). While the press article does include a couple examples of what a material item might be, like clothing or a computer (Dean 2008), it does not contain any disclaimer on why materialistic items could be useful, or if materialistic purchases could double as an experience. The research study addresses this operational definition, and acknowledges that the meaning may seem unclear, and attempts to define their usage of ‘materialistic’(Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003). Finally, the press article does not accurately convey the second study that it cites. The second study, which was a simple survey, polled 40 people about whether they contemplated their material purchase or their experiential purchase longer (Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003). In a survey, no variables are manipulated, therefore causation cannot be claimed (Myers & DeWall, 2016). Unfortunately, the article worded the survey in a way that implied it was a test (the word ‘test’ was used), and that the results proved their point (Dean 2008). The omission of these important details detracts from the press article

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