The dream of owning your own home is often more beautiful than reality


consumer psychology

Study shows: Your own four walls do not necessarily make you happy

Anyone who buys their own home usually imagines life in it to be nicer than it is: According to a study by the University of Basel, consumers overestimate the positive effect on their happiness.

Buying a home often doesn’t make you as happy as you’d hope. (icon picture)

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Anyone who buys their own home usually hopes for greater life satisfaction. Whether this will actually happen after moving into your own four walls is another question. Two Basel economists tried to get to the bottom of this using scientific methods. Their result: “The positive effect on satisfaction lasts less than people expect.” This result was published in the journal “Journal of Happiness Studies” and communicated by the University of Basel on Tuesday.

The statements of more than 800 future homeowners were evaluated for the study. These are registered in a dataset that contains statements on expected and actual life satisfaction. It turned out that the buyers hoped for a significantly higher level of life satisfaction before moving in. However, they underestimated the habituation effect after moving in.

Those who are success-oriented are more likely to be disappointed

According to the study, how deep the gap is between happy expectations before and everyday dissatisfaction after the purchase also depends on the values ​​of the buyer. The effect of the purchase on their own well-being is therefore overestimated above all by people for whom money and success are particularly important. On the other hand, those who rely more on friends and family for their happiness are less disappointed.

“Status-oriented people in particular overestimate the increase in life satisfaction,” co-author of the study Reto Odermatt is quoted in the statement: “Intrinsically oriented people, for whom family and friendships are relatively more important, do not.”

Questioning your own values ​​can pay off

The results of the study show that people do not necessarily follow their own preferences in their decisions, but “their sometimes distorted ideas” about them, the statement continues. The ideas are possibly influenced by external factors such as advertising or socialization.

According to Odermatt, knowing about this can be politically helpful in order to “counteract manipulations by commercial actors, for example”. Ultimately, the study also questions the concept of consumer sovereignty, which is central to economics: it shows “that people may misjudge the happiness factor in a decision and therefore do not act in their best interest”.

In everyday life, it can be worth questioning your own values, “especially before you make far-reaching decisions,” according to the authors. In the search for happiness in life, material values ​​are more likely to lead to incorrect forecasts than intrinsic values.


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