The Psychology of Consumerism


By Neha Saraf

| Buy 1, get 1 free? What a bargain! Or is it… Developed countries, such as America, rely heavily on consumerism to feed economic growth. Unknown to most is the detrimental psychological effects of such a “more is better” model. We tend to base our happiness on our ability to buy stuff, which requires that we have the ability to earn money. In essence, we must earn money so that we can spend money in order to buy stuff to make us happy. The problem with this process is two-fold. First, the pressure to earn money to gain buying power places many individuals in situations where workplace productivity suffers due to a lack of intrinsic motivation. Secondly, consumerism is leeching all the resources from our planet, depleting them at an alarming rate! Hence, consumerism damages our mental health while threatening our continued existence.

The Western ideology of “more is better” has become very commonplace, making it appear as though buying is necessary for happiness as it is the primary method in which we can showcase our accomplishments to society. In order to gain this buying power, people must focus on earning high salaries, and strive to get more and more money as they progress. Many people find themselves prioritizing money over happiness, health, ecological preservation, etc. As a result, we feel externally motivated by money in order to feed this vicious cycle of consumerism. Surprisingly, many studies have shown that money doesn’t seem to be an effective compensation for workers around the globe. In reality, people seem to perform poorer on mechanical tasks when offered higher monetary awards than those offered lower monetary awards. The RSA video discusses the importance of intrinsic motivation concerning workplace productivity:


If we continue on this greedy, selfish path, our future generations will inherit the remains of a deteriorating planet – a world almost barren of life due to the irreversible damage we have inflicted upon it. American rapper and activist, Prince EA best summarizes these sentiments below:

We must take action against the cruel downward spiral of consumerism not only to benefit our mental health, but also to save the planet that supports our very existence.



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