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  1. #1
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Default Economic Materialism

    So I started wondering about materialism and how it effects people, and I read this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_materialism
    Materialism (adj. materialistic) is the excessive desire to acquire and consume material goods. It is often bound up with a value system which regards social status as being determined by affluence (see conspicuous consumption) as well as the perception that happiness can be increased through buying, spending and accumulating material wealth. Positively, materialism might be considered a pragmatic form of enlightened self-interest based on a prudent understanding of the character of capitalist society. Negatively, it is considered a crass, if not false, value system induced by the spell of commodity fetishism and void of more noble and worthy values.

    Definition

    Consumer research typically looks at materialism in two ways. One as a collection of personality traits[1] and one as an enduring belief or value.[2]
    Materialism as a personality trait

    Belk's conceptualization of materialism includes three original personality traits.[3]

    Nongenerosity - an unwillingness to give or share possession with others.
    Envy - desire for other people's possessions.
    Possessiveness- concern about loss of possessions and a desire for the greater control of ownership.

    Materialism as a value

    Acquisition centrality is when acquiring material possession functions as a central life goal with the belief that possessions are the key to happiness and that success can be judged by people's material wealth.[4]

    Growing materialism in America

    In the United States, there is a growing trend of increasing materialism in order to pursue the "good life." Research shows that recent generations are focusing more on money, image, and fame than ever before - especially when compared to the generations of Baby Boomers and Generation X.[5]

    In one survey, 1 in 14 Americans would murder someone for 3 million dollars and 65% of respondents said they would spend a year on a deserted island to earn $1 million.[6]

    A survey conducted by the University of California and the American Council on Education on a quarter of a million new college students found that their main reason for attending college was to gain material wealth. From the 1970s to the late 1990s, the percentage of students who stated that their main reason for going to college was to develop a meaningful life philosophy dropped from more than 80% to about 40%, while the purpose of obtaining financial gain rose from about 40% to more than 75%.[7]

    Materialism and happiness

    However, an increase in material wealth and goods in America has actually had little to no effect on the well-being and happiness of its people.[8][9] Skitovsky called this a "joyless economy" in which people endlessly pursue comforts to the detriments of pleasures.[10]

    Using two measures of subjective well-being, one study found that materialism was negatively related to happiness, meaning that people who tended to be more materialistic were also less happy.[11] When people derive a lot of pleasure from buying things and believe that acquiring material possessions are important life goals, they tend to have lower life satisfaction scores.[12] Materialism also positively correlates with more serious psychological issues such as depression, narcissism and paranoia.[13] Ironically, a person's pursuit of happiness through the "American Dream" will make them unhappier.

    However, the relationship between materialism and happiness is more complex. The direction of the relationship can go both ways. Individual materialism can cause diminished well-being or lower levels of well-being can cause people to be more materialistic in an effort to get external gratification.[14]

    Instead, research shows that purchases made with the intention of acquiring life experiences such as going on a family vacation make people happier than purchases made to acquire material possessions such as a car. Even just thinking about experiential purchases makes people happier than thinking about material ones.
    I am curious about how materialism effects people and their happiness, and why people desire material things beyond your basic needs to survive so much.

    All comments are welcome.

  2. #2
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giggly View Post
    All comments are welcome.
    "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

  3. #3
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    As for happiness, what's better in the longrun. Global happiness, or just the happiness of individuals? Emphasizing "my happiness", rather than "happiness for everyone" seems to have some serious consequences, that no one sees right away.

    The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income. And according to UNICEF, 20,000 children die every day due to issues of poverty.

  4. #4
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
    Well, I agree with that but I think people can't wait that long until they get to heaven. They want some pleasure treasures here on earth too.

    I even started thinking about workaholics. People who their main source of happiness is work. What happens when they retire? Is happiness over for them? What will make them happy then?

    I also wonder why many material things bore me (more like never pique my interest) but not other people. I wonder if I'm daft or missing something because it appears to be quite pleasurable to them from what I can tell.

  5. #5
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giggly View Post
    Well, I agree with that but I think people can't wait that long until they get to heaven. They want some pleasure treasures here on earth too..
    Read my second post.

    Earthly treasures come at a blood price. Excessive ones, especially.

  6. #6
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    Read my second post.

    Earthly treasures come at a blood price. Excessive ones, especially.
    I don't like that. I have some loved ones who are this way. I don't want their blood spilling anywhere.

  7. #7
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    I believe a solid balance can be struck, I still believe in the American Dream. I want a new TV every five years. I wouldn't mind getting a new Nissan Z once in my life. I'll spend good money on a watch, or glasses, or a jacket. Just the other day I sat outside scrubbing my two-hundred dollar tennis shoes with a toothbrush, I got them over two years ago and I'll love them more tomorrow than I ever have. I especially want a house, with a yard, with more than an arm's length from my neighbor's front door.


    I don't buy into all that anti-consumerist propaganda. People will be unhappy with or without goods, I figure. If I have what it takes to ascertain my desires while maintaining my level of happiness, why relinquish that ability? It is a treasure in the universe to be able to do so.

  8. #8
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I worry that this means people are becoming even easier to manipulate with money and the power of wealth is only growing. It would stand to reasons that it's a positive feedback loop. The increased power of wealth makes it more desirable and the greater desire for wealth makes it more powerful.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  9. #9
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    I wouldn't kill anyone for a million dollars, but I would totally live on a deserted island for a year....less out of desire to live in hedonistic luxury (and a million dollars wouldn't last very long doing that), and more out of a desire not to have to work for the rest of my life.

    But yeah, its personal connections with other human beings that tend to make people the happiest, even for introverts (though we also need copious amounts of alone time, which can but does not necessarily conflict with maintaining personal connections).

    As for consumerism, one reason would be people with few personal connections might need it to fill in the emptiness inside, much like an addict and their fix, except due more to poor socialization than to brain chemistry.

  10. #10
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    Emphasizing "my happiness", rather than "happiness for everyone" seems to have some serious consequences, that no one sees right away.
    The reverse is also true....Karl Marx and Ayn Rand are two sides of the same coin, IMO, but the negative affects of too much individualism tends to be less than the negative effects of too much communitarianism.

    Also, extreme poverty has rapidly declined at the global level, due primarily to countries like China, India, etc. deciding to participate in the same institutions which also feed consumerism....its not a zero-sum game.

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