SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release


Media Advisory: SF State experts available to comment on seasonal gifts and holiday purchases


SAN FRANCISCO, November 25, 2008 -- With the economic downturn and increasing environmental concerns, the holidays may look different this year with many people wondering how to celebrate with a reduced focus on shopping and material consumption. San Francisco State University has faculty experts who can comment on the happiness benefits of experiential purchases versus material possessions; choosing green gifts; and reducing consumption.


Research points to experiential gifts


Research by Assistant Professor of Psychology Ryan Howell shows that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or tickets to the theater, are more likely to make people happy than material purchases. Howell suggests that the reason for this relationship lies in the higher order needs that experiences help satisfy, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality -- a feeling of being alive. In addition, experiential purchases are more likely to make other people happy too.

While the study examined people who had purchased these items for themselves, Howell suggests the findings can also be applied to purchasing gifts for others. "Purchased experiences provide memory capital," Howell said. "You don't get bored of happy memories like you do with a new gadget or shirt." Howell will present the study at the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists annual meeting in February.

Contact Ryan Howell at (415) 405-2140 (office) or rhowell@sfsu.edu

Sustainable clothing gifts

For advice on how to make informed choices about clothing gifts, Connie Ulasewicz, assistant professor of consumer and family studies, is an expert on sustainable fashion. Co-author of "Sustainable Fashion: Why Now?" (2008), Ulasewicz can advise on choosing garments that are made using renewable resources and produced with humane manufacturing practices. Ulasewicz can also comment on packaging and reducing shopping bag waste.

Contact Connie Ulasewicz at (415) 338-1860 (office) or cbu@sfsu.edu

Celebrating the season with less shopping

A society based on consumerism is bound for frustration and environmental degradation, according to Joel J. Kassiola, political science professor and dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Kassiola teaches an innovative course on the politics and ethics of the consumer society, which examines whether the current rate of consumption is environmentally or morally sustainable. Kassiola can comment on ways to celebrate the holiday season without buying goods and can comment on simplicity movements such as Buy Nothing Day on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Contact Joel Kassiola at (415) 338-7692 or kassiola@sfsu.edu


Tendai Chitewere, assistant professor of liberal studies, specializes in consumption and environmentalism. She is an expert on trends in green commodities and can comment on alternative ways to show appreciation to their loved ones without consuming more goods.

Contact Tendai Chitewere at (415) 405-2676 or tendai@sfsu.edu


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