Consumerism and its antisocial effects can be turned on -- or off

Apr 09, 2012

Money doesn't buy happiness. Neither does materialism: Research shows that people who place a high value on wealth, status, and stuff are more depressed and anxious and less sociable than those who do not. Now new research shows that materialism is not just a personal problem. It's also environmental.

"We found that irrespective of personality, in situations that activate a consumer , people show the same sorts of problematic patterns in , including negative affect and social ," says Northwestern University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen. The study, conducted with colleagues Monika A. Bauer, James E. B. Wilkie, and Jung K. Kim, appears in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for .

In two of four experiments, university students were put in a materialistic frame of mind by tasks that exposed them to images of or words mobilizing consumerist values (versus neutral scenes devoid of consumer products or words without such connotations). Completing afterwards, those who looked at the pictures of cars, electronics, and jewelry rated themselves higher in depression and anxiety, less interested in social activities like parties, and more in solitary pursuits than the others. Those primed to by exposure to certain words evinced more and less desire to invest their time in pro-social activities like working for a good cause.

In two other experiments, participants completed tasks that were framed as surveys—one of consumer responses, another of citizens.' The first experiment involved moving words toward or away from the participant's name on a computer screen—positive and negative emotion words and "neutral" ones that actually suggested materialism (wealth, power), self-restraint (humble, discipline), transcendence of self, or self-indulgence. The people who answered the "consumer response survey" more quickly "approached" the words that reflected materialistic values than those in the "citizen" survey. The last experiment presented participants with a hypothetical water shortage in a well shared by four people, including themselves. The water users were identified either as consumers or individuals. Might the collective identity as consumers—as opposed to the individual role—supersede the selfishness ordinarily stimulated by the consumer identity? No: The "consumers" rated themselves as less trusting of others to conserve water, less personally responsible and less in partnership with the others in dealing with the crisis. The consumer status, the authors concluded "did not unite; it divided."

The findings have both social and personal implications, says Bodenhausen. "It's become commonplace to use consumer as a generic term for people," in the news or discussions of taxes, politics, or health care. If we use term such as Americans or citizens instead, he says, "that subtle difference activates different psychological concerns." We can also take personal initiative to reduce the depressive, isolating effects of a materialist mindset by avoiding its stimulants—most obviously, advertising. One method: "Watch less TV."

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Burnerjack
not rated yet Apr 09, 2012
Money may not buy happiness but I suspect it beats the hell out of poverty. Let me win Powerball and I'll let you know what it's like!
ryggesogn2
Apr 09, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
gwrede
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2012
Watch less TV
and less roadside ads and net banners and flash and magazine ads. In other words, exclude yourself from the Western world.

But let us Free the rest of the world to enjoy the Free Market!

Having said that, I think I sound like a Commie. Sigh.
Mahal_Kita
not rated yet Apr 09, 2012
It strikes me every time again how 50's the political mindset is of the average American.
Tennex
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2012
new research shows that materialism is not just a personal problem. It's also environmental
Paradoxically, this trivial conclusion is the example of consumerist "duh" science with low value added. We all already know it.

IMO the money and wealth are doing people more careless, which is why the people are trying to become rich so obstinately. But there is a trick: the people are becoming happy only when they're getting richer and richer and this requirement is relative, which leads in exponential curve of demands. The huge property comes with its cost, and it requires to keep the income flow steadily high. This generates the stress for their owners - actually the higher, the richer these owners are. IMO it all fills the simple mathematical model, which explains both the consumerism, both the existential stress of average middle-class people.
Tennex
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2012
To put it simply, if you have ten dollars in property, then the another one dollar will make you sufficiently happy. If you have ten thousands of dollars, then additional one dollar is not sufficient enough, you'll need to get another thousand of dollars to become equally happy. But the ownership of ten thousands of dollars requires the income one thousand of dollar per month for its maintenance. So if your income is bellow one thousand of dollars per month, your property will not only make you happier, but more stressed instead.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2012
Who is forced to purchase anything they see advertised by the advertisers? If they were forced, there would be no need to spend money to advertise.

However, the current regime in the USA wants to force individuals to purchase a consumer product.

BTW, most govts WANT their people to consume so they can collect more tax.
Tennex
3 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2012
BTW, most govts WANT their people to consume so they can collect more tax.
It may be a problem, when it's connected with forced production and consumption of low quality products of short life-time and high environmental impact. At the case of low quality food it helps the governments to decrease the expenses to annuities.
rikvanriel
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2012
Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy a barbecue and deck chairs, which amount to the same thing once you invite some friends over...
lowerarchy
3 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2012
Another pro-socialist 'study'.

You're obviously not a social scientist...
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2012
Re: "Paradoxically, this trivial conclusion is the example of consumerist "duh" science with low value added. We all already know it."

You know guys, I've been seeing a LOT of anti-social sciences comments floating around the literature these days. I don't really get it, to be honest, because the social sciences can act as support for explaining other extremely complex human endeavors. Take, for instance, the endeavor of science itself. People like to imagine that science has this virginal, untouched virtue to it when they refer to peer review. Peer review is in fact NOT EVEN PRETTY. And from what I can tell, the problems of peer review appear to follow almost directly from the findings of the social sciences.

And I'm surprised we don't see more people trying to apply these findings, instead of just trashing it as "duh" science. The devil is in the relevancy of this research to human endeavors. Even if the research conclusions are obvious to you, the application IS NOT.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (36) Apr 10, 2012
Of course. Uncontrolled Capitalism is an economic cancer.

"Another pro-socialist 'study'." - RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (38) Apr 10, 2012
Americans are working longer hours today than they did 30 years ago.

Do you have time to actually use those deck chairs? Or do you just dream about them while you are stuck in traffic jams on your way home from work.

"Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy a barbecue and deck chairs, which amount to the same thing once you invite some friends over..." - Rikv

Less stuff = More happiness.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (37) Apr 10, 2012
Tennex has made a very wise observation and a very wise statement.

"It may be a problem, when it's connected with forced production and consumption of low quality products of short life-time and high environmental impact." - Tennex
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (37) Apr 10, 2012
Yes, you must purchase automotive insurance in order to legally drive on public roads.

That requirement is opposed by Libertarians and Randites such as yourself isn't it? You believe that any drunk or incompetent should be permitted to drive on public roads.

Well, those of you who don't believe that all public roads and bridges shouldn't be privately owned Troll roads and bridges.

"However, the current regime in the USA wants to force individuals to purchase a consumer product." - RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (37) Apr 10, 2012
And many Conservative Christian Americans want to return to the 1800's if not earlier.

And American Libertarians and Randites like RyggTard, insist on living in an alternate universe consisting of three directions of Tard Space called RightWing, Greed, and Idiocy.

"It strikes me every time again how 50's the political mindset is of the average American."
tadchem
3 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2012
Whoever said money cant buy happiness didnt know where to shop.
Money might not be able to buy happiness, but it makes misery much more tolerabel.
JamesK
not rated yet Apr 10, 2012
The study isn't saying we should all live in squalor or poverty, neither is it truly saying lots of money makes one unhappy. It instead posits that focusing on wealth and buying things makes people more stressed and unhappy. Once you reach a level of prosperity sufficient to provide for daily needs and occasional desires, pursuing more wealth doesn't necessarily make one happy (it could if you spent it on others, charity, friends, family, etc).
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2012
The study isn't saying we should all live in squalor or poverty, neither is it truly saying lots of money makes one unhappy. It instead posits that focusing on wealth and buying things makes people more stressed and unhappy. Once you reach a level of prosperity sufficient to provide for daily needs and occasional desires, pursuing more wealth doesn't necessarily make one happy (it could if you spent it on others, charity, friends, family, etc).

So why does Buffet pursue wealth? It seems to make him happy.

Many who are wealthy didn't pursue wealth. They pursued their dream and wealth followed. That happens when the govt protects their property and does not punish their success.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2012
"Research shows that people...are more depressed and anxious and less sociable than those who do not. Now new research shows that materialism is not just a personal problem. It's also environmental."

-Sure its ruinous to people and the environment but Thruput (competition fueled by consumption) is absolutely necessary to a civilization at our stage of development.

Thruput generates innovation. Technology has provided a glut of potential that absolutely HAS to be explored. The only way to do this is by forcing Thruput and thereby innovation. If potentially deadly tech is not developed in the west first, it can and will be developed elsewhere and used against us.

Digital infrastructure HAD to be established, therefore PCs HAD to be produced in the millions and tested in real world environments. This is only one example of the tech being forced into existance at this critical period in our evolution. Sure it is ruinous, but so is inaction when action is essential.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2012
Rampant consumerism is providing the technological infrastructure and abilities necessary to establish independent settlements off-planet. These are essential for the long term survival of the species.

This capability absolutely could not have been produced without the rampant consumerism and resulting technological progress of the last few centuries.

It can not, and will not, go on forever, as we need this world to thrive upon every bit as much as we need the next. Once a suitable plateau has been reached, Thruput will be curtailed.

People will be convinced they can be satisfied with much less, in the same way as they have been previously convinced that they need much more of everything in order to be happy. In fact it should be a much easier sell. There are indications that this deflation has already begun.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2012
So why does Buffet pursue wealth? It seems to make him happy.
Really? And how much time does he spend enjoying the fruits of his work, as opposed to working?

People like buffet enjoy working. They enjoy doing what they do.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Apr 10, 2012
Some people derive happiness through self mutilation. Some people derive happiness through the mutilation of others.

"So why does Buffet pursue wealth? It seems to make him happy." - Ryggtard
aemilius
not rated yet Apr 10, 2012
I think that financial equality will be a better world to live in, we will be less focused on wanting things and more creative and that will be better for everyone, including the planet. Materialism is not directed at the poor only, but at the rich too, the difference is that you buy a regular travel luggage worth $50.00 and a rich person buys a Louis Vuitton, worth $5000.00 ,but both of you have the same anxieties whatever they may be and both luggage's get thrown in the cargo plane the same way. Imagine yourself dead once in while, it's a healthy thing to do, it makes you see better in the fog...I personally know a millionaire that is completely miserable and holds on to his money for dear life, but I don't think for a second that all rich people are depressed, that was just my ill luck. In the words of Charles B. 'If you can tie your shoe with now one close behind you, it's victory enough'.
Vendicar_Decarian
Apr 11, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2012
but at the rich too, the difference is that you buy a regular travel luggage worth $50.00 and a rich person buys a Louis Vuitton, worth $5000.00 ,but both of you have the same anxieties whatever they may be and both luggage's get thrown in the cargo plane the same way.
Yes but only the rich can afford luggage to put their expensive luggage IN, so it doesnt get mussed.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2012
I think that financial equality will be a better world to live in

Like Cuba?
kaasinees
0 / 5 (21) Apr 14, 2012
I think that financial equality will be a better world to live in

Like Cuba?

And what is wrong with cuba?
You do realize the USA banned trading with cuba?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2012
I think that financial equality will be a better world to live in

Like Cuba?

And what is wrong with cuba?
You do realize the USA banned trading with cuba?

What does trade have to do with financial equality?
kaasinees
0 / 5 (21) Apr 15, 2012
I think that financial equality will be a better world to live in

Like Cuba?

And what is wrong with cuba?
You do realize the USA banned trading with cuba?

What does trade have to do with financial equality?

What the hell are you talking about???
What does financial equality have todo with ANYTING?
And financial eqaulity between what??
50 million americans live in poverty, struggling for food.
In cuba everyone is asured to get food and school
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Apr 15, 2012
Virtually everyone I know has gone to Cuba and they like it very much.

It is a pity Americans aren't free to go there and assist the people of Cuba economically through tourism.

"Like Cuba?" - RyggTard

Don't you agree RyggTard?
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Apr 15, 2012
What he is saying is that by restricting foreign trade with Cuba. Trade no only from itself, but trade with Cuba and other nations, the U.S. has sought to establish poverty in Cuba in order to falsely claim that the Cuban political system produces poverty when in fact it is American foreign policy that has created the poverty.

"What does trade have to do with financial equality?" - RyggTard

You do agree don't you RyggTard that America should be purchasing sugar from Cuba rather than from subsidizing American sugar beet producers with "stolen" tax money (over a billion per year) to produce the stuff.

Without evil government laws preventing it, the entire U.S. sugar industry could be off-shored to Cuba thereby reducing American food prices, and transferring $10 billion per year into the Cuban Economy.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Apr 15, 2012
Now how would RyggTard realize that when like all Conservatives he keeps his head deep inside his rectum?

"You do realize the USA banned trading with cuba?" - Kaasiness
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2012
In cuba everyone is asured to get food and school

"Cuba will lay off more than 500,000 state employees by March and expand private employment to give them work in the biggest shift to the private sector since the 1960s, the Cuban Workers Federation said on Monday."
"More than 85 percent of the Cuban labor force, or over 5 million people, works for the Soviet-styled one-party state, many of them in unproductive work."

"Suddenly deprived of half its food and most of its agricultural inputs, [Cuba] has not only maintained but increased its food supply in a way that creates jobs and improves the environment.

Right, by importing 84 percent of the food.

Cuba has lots of unused farmland, but Castros system discouraged rural farmers. They couldnt get their over-quota surplus to the cities for lack of fuel and trucks. Much of Cubas rural land has now grown up to thorny marabou bushes."
http://www.canada...cle/9571
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2012
"Lacking fuel for machinery, farmers are using some 150,000 oxen to till their ground. This is good for soil structure, according to Zepeda, since animals weigh less than tractors. By the time her article was published, calorie consumption in Cuba was still less than the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization, but some things are worth other people being hungry for, and "sustainable agriculture" is one of them. "
"ration coupons allow for only about half of the needed calories and that agriculture is so inefficient that Cubans spend about 50 to 70 percent of their gross income supplementing the food available through the state system. "
"84 percent of all food consumed in Cuba is imported." {from where?} "food imports from the United States have been increasing rapidly. "
http://www.weekly...p?page=2
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2012
"The list of products available with the ration books has shrunk in recent months as the government trimmed items deemed nonessential. Cigarettes, salt, peas and potatoes have been cut. Sugar, beans, meat, rice, eggs, bread and other products remain.

"It's already hard to make ends meet as it is and this is only going to make it harder," said Elias Conde, a 38-year-old father of two who works in a cafeteria. "But we're used to them taking things away, today it's soap and tomorrow it'll be something else."
"Authorities say the cuts are necessary to free the state -- which pays for or heavily subsidises education, health care, housing and transportation -- from a crushing economic burden."

Read more: http://www.jamaic...s733QhiI
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2012
"Cuba, which imports most of its food, gets chicken, corn, soy, wheat, pork and other products from the United States."
"The trade council said the reasons for the decline were largely economic and not political and included Cuba 's lack of foreign currency and better financial terms being offered by a host of countries from Canada , Brazil and Vietnam to Russia and France."
http://www.thehav...ness-=en
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2012
I think that financial equality will be a better world to live in, we will be less focused on wanting things

Like food?