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The Diderot Effect

Hello there πŸ™‚

I’ve recently been having a bit of trouble controlling my impulses. As most of you well know, I’ve been going the minimalist route. A loose version of the colorful capsule wardrobe; AKA: I don’t have a lot of money, so I have very few quality pieces that currently fit.

I received a few new items for my birthday several months ago. πŸ™‚ However, I’ve been noticing recently that I find myself wanting more. I catch myself perusing online shopping venues, walking through luxury store chains, searching for that perfect piece, made of 100% natural fibres, that I cannot afford yet desperately want to bring home with me. I’ve been questioning why I remain unsatisfied with the items I have.

Finally, I realized what was happening. This urge to buy all new, not just replace worn out items. Thus comes the Diderot effect. It’s a driving factor in consumerism and marketing firms depend upon it.

The Diderot Effect is a theory coming from Frenchman ___ Diderot in the 18th century. He wrote about this consumerist cause and affect theory when he received a nice new dressing gown as a gift from a friend. Diderot noticed, that when compared to his new dressing gown, his belongings looked shabby. He needed to replace his items, so as to match his new dressing gown. He went so far as to even replace the art in his home!

This compulsion to purchase. When 1 purchase leads to further purchases to ‘go with’ the original purchase, this is the Diderot effect. It can be a short term ‘over shop’ or a long term consistent need for new items, even when the original item is not worn out or damaged.

The question remains however, how do we break this cycle? When is enough, enough? Please share any ideas you have on this. If this is a standard problem, a logic issue, there HAS to be a well known way to counter our thinking. I just don’t know what it is.

Thanks for reading!

-Mliae

*Photo Source: Pixabay, copyright free images

23 Comments »

  1. I studied Diderot and his Encyclopedia in college, a long time ago. I think he suffered the Diderot effect himself pursuing knowledge, LOL (just take a look at his Encyclopedia and youΒ΄ll see what IΒ΄m talking about). If it helps you, there is a Chinese proverb: “Enough is a feast” and a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “There are two ways to get enough, one is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less”.
    Big hugs!!

  2. Love this! The Diderot Effect, eh?
    Here’s a new angle: clothing reflects consciousness. Why do styles change constantly and why is there satisfaction in changing minute details of our wardrobe continually?
    I think it is because of conscious shift. The new styles always represent the latest consciousness. We immediately see this in our subconscious, but don’t recognize it in our natural mind. That’s why we are always drawn to the new. It is the now, and we subconsciously know it. And we want to be in the now.
    That doesn’t solve the question of our old clothes, does it? My old clothes can be in perfectly new condition and I still don’t want to wear them if they reflect old consciousness. I can’t help but be “in” the now.
    That’s why, even though I don’t always have the budget for it, I wear high end clothes that stand the test of time. I can then enjoy them until I wear them out. I might not have as many clothes, but at least I can be conscious of knowing I am in the now, and enjoying it.

  3. One explanation is that humans are hardwired to be dissatisfied. We’re also programmed to lose interest once we have acquired the new, desirable object. So we really have to fight these impulses! My solution is to find new ways to wear my older things. Sometimes it’s a matter of a new combination. Sometimes an accessory will make something old feel newer and more up to date. Something as simple as changing the buttons, adding a belt, etc. will breathe new life into our old standbys.

    As with everything else, it’s all about awareness, isn’t it? God knows I suffer from this as well!! xx, Alisa

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