The High Price of Materialism
In The High Price of Materialism, Tim Kasser offers a scientific explanation of how our contemporary culture of consumerism and materialism affects our everyday happiness and psychological health. Other writers have shown that once we have sufficient food, shelter, and clothing, further material gains do little to improve our well-being. Kasser goes beyond these findings to investigate how people’s materialistic desires relate to their well-being. He shows that people whose values center on the accumulation of wealth or material possessions face a greater risk of unhappiness, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and problems with intimacy—regardless of age, income, or culture.
Drawing on a decade’s worth of empirical data, Kasser examines what happens when we organize our lives around materialistic pursuits. He looks at the effects on our internal experience and interpersonal relationships, as well as on our communities and the world at large. He shows that materialistic values actually undermine our well-being, as they perpetuate feelings of insecurity, weaken the ties that bind us, and make us feel less free. Kasser not only defines the problem but proposes ways we can change ourselves, our families, and society to become less materialistic.
About the Author
Tim Kasser is Associate Professor of Psychology at Knox College, Illinois.
“Kasser powerfully argues that when we feel more vulnerable, we exhibit more sharply defined materialistic tendencies.”—Publishers Weekly
“An excellent, thorough, insightful examination of object hedonism and its psychological costs. Well-written to boot.”
—Amitai Etzioni, University Professor, George Washington University and author of The Monochrome Society
“Does money buy happiness? For years, socialscientists knew relatively little about this important question. Now that has changed. On the basis of more than a decade's worth of original research, Tim Kasser provides a powerful answer—materialism undermines human well-being. The High Price of Materialism is a path-breaking work that suggests a fundamental rethinking of our values, behaviors,and economic structures. Deserves the widest possible readership.”
—Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology, Boston College; author of The Overworked American
“What an irony: Lusting for and getting what we want—more—does not, in the long run, make middle class folks happier. Seeking ever more affluence exacts both environmental and psychic costs. So why not dream a new American dream, asks Kasser in this provocative and practical book—one focused more on meaning than money, and more on connection than consumption.”
—David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College and author of The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty
“It is rare that a book combines insightful scholarship, rigorous research, passionate involvement in its subject, and a focus on a topic of true importance to the human condition. In his careful, caring, and constructive examination of materialism, Tim Kasser has created a brilliant analysis of a growing problem and its possible solutions.”
—Russell W. Belk, N. Eldon Tanner Professor, David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah
“A much-needed scholarly analysis of the psychological factors surrounding materialism in contemporary America.”
—Marsha L. Richins, College of Business, University of Missouri, Columbia
“Tim Kasser's book nails the whopping lie at the heart of our civilization: the belief that having more money and the things that money buys makes us happier. The truth, as he demonstrates so comprehensively and thoroughly, is that materialism breeds, not happiness, but dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety, anger, isolation, and alienation. The importance of Kasser's message is difficult to overestimate; it reaches beyond our personal lives to the world situation. The global economy requires for its continued stability and growth that those of us in the West—and Americans especially—consume more and more. A vast media-marketing-advertising industrial complex serves this purpose. As a result of the consumer binge, our individual health suffers, social cohesion declines, and the biosphere is degraded. Reversing these trends means changing what we consider to be right, good, and important. Tim Kasser's book will add to the gathering momentum for achieving this fundamental shift in values.”
—Richard Eckersley, Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University
“A valuable critique of material culture, with facts and surveys making the case that the true source of happiness comes from non-material pleasures.”
—Betsy Taylor, President, New American Dream and author of Sustainable Planet