Research – Minimalism 2017-01-13T13:40:49+00:00

Research – Minimalism

Joseph Chancellor and Sonja Lyubomirsky have reviewed decades of social and consumer psychology research on the relationship between money and happiness. The two psychologists conclude that living a thrifty lifestyle – a life concerned with “strategic underconsumption” and an efficient use of resources – can: (a) bring about hedonic benefits to its practitioners; (b) help tackle the materialistic society’s chronic habit of overspending; and (c) overcome hedonic adaptation, whereby an individual’s happiness that arises from positive change erodes due to diminishing positive emotions and rising aspirations. By aiding the development of sustainable happiness, thrift can extend “the meaning of sustainability, ensuring that the collective can flourish as well as the individual”.

Find the review here with ten suggestions on how people can practice thrift in their daily lives – consuming less and becoming happier in the process:

Money for Happiness: The Hedonic Benefits of Thrift

Here Chancellor and Lyubomirsky explain how today’s materialism is harmful to the individual, economy, and environment. Thrift, on the other hand, helps eliminate distressing debts, increases positive experience through appreciation and savouring, and encourages individuals to focus on intrinsic rather than extrinsic goals, making a greater positive impact on out psychological well-being:

Happiness and thrift: When (spending) less is (hedonically) more

Discover more about Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research on her website:

Sonja Lyubomirsky website

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Travis J. Carter and Thomas Gilovich, psychologists from Cornell University, discovered in a series of eight studies that people get more enduring happiness from spending money on experiences rather than possessions. Consumers get an initial high from acquiring new material purchases, however, individuals quickly adapt to these items, compare them with other objects and second-guess their choice of purchases. This results in a speedy loss of satisfaction. This process is called the Adaptation Level Theory. Life-experiences, on the other hand, are much less subject to being undermined by social comparisons; therefore the happiness caused from experiential purchases endures much longer, and in fact increases over time.

Learn about the eight studies here:

The Relative Relativity of Material and Experiential Purchases

Ryan T. Howell, Pauline Pchelin and Ravi Iyer developed the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale (EBTS) in order to aid researchers to understand further and measure the preference for experiential buying (spending money on experiences rather than material products). Sampling 9634 people whilst developing the EBTS, the researchers found those with less-materialistic values were the ones predicted to prefer spending money on experiences, which, ultimately, led to them having an increased subjective well-being.

Find out here what other characteristics are related to an experiential purchasing tendency:

The preference for experience over possessions: Measurement and construct validation of the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale

Minimalism in Practice

James Wallman, trend forecaster, journalist and author, is on a mission to encourage individuals, businesses, and governments to discard our “throwaway culture” of materialism and replace it with experientialism, where happiness and quality of life is best found. In his book, Stuffocation, Wallman examines our obsession with stuff and introduces different ways we can live to lead happier and more meaningful lives.

Find out more about the book and Wallman’s Experience Revolution here:

Stuffocation

Watch Wallman discuss his ideas here:

James Wallman – Videos

Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, better known as The Minimalists, realised as they were approaching 30 that even though they had it all, according to the American Dream – the big house, the luxury car, the six-figure job, the good relationships – they still weren’t happy. Instead, these “achievements” had brought them debt, stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, guilt, and depression. So they gave it all up and applied the principals of minimalism to their lives, curious to see whether they had been chasing the wrong goals. Now they do what they love: write and mentor, away from the stresses of materialism, spending time on positive social relationships, and able to enjoy increased intrinsic value from experiences more than the extrinsic, short lasting satisfaction from possessions.

Follow their journey and teachings on minimalism here:

The Minimalists

Here they delve further into the scientific research that backs up the case for minimalism:

Minimalism & Happiness Through Scientific Eyes

Watch Nicodemus and Fields Millburn tell their story here:

A Rich Life with Less Stuff

Further Videos

Dan Gilbert, psychologist and happiness expert, discusses why happiness isn’t about getting what we’ve always thought we wanted:

The Surprising Science of Happiness

Dave Bruno speaks about his challenge to live with less than 100 personal items a year:

The 100 things challenge

Footnote*

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text below relating to the article you wish to see into your browser top bar)

Joseph Chancellor and Sonja Lyubomirsky
Money for Happiness: The Hedonic Benefits of Thrift
http://sonjalyubomirsky.com/files/2012/09/CLinpress.pdf

Happiness and thrift: When (spending) less is (hedonically) more
http://sonjalyubomirsky.com/wp-content/themes/sonjalyubomirsky/papers/CL2011.pdf

Sonja Lyubomirsky website
http://sonjalyubomirsky.com

Travis J. Carter and Thomas Gilovich
The Relative Relativity of Material and Experiential Purchases
http://www.fyiliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/therelativerelativity.pdf

Ryan T. Howell, Pauline Pchelin and Ravi Iyer
The preference for experience over possessions: Measurement and construct validation of the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale
https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/2557/howellpcheliniyer2012the-preference-experiences-over-possessions.pdf

James Wallman
Stuffocation
http://stuffocation.org

James Wallman – Videos
Videos

Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn
The Minimalists
http://www.theminimalists.com

Minimalism & Happiness Through Scientific Eyes

Tedtalks: A Rich Life with Less Stuff

Dan Gilbert
Tedtalk: The Surprising Science of Happiness

Tedtalk: The 100 things challenge