Expensive Consumption Lesson From The DIDEROT Psychological Effect

(Photo: Hmun)

The Diderot effect is named after the French philosopher Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784). Born blacksmith family, however, due to his rejection of the family’s wishes, he had to live a quite difficult and poor life.

Denis Diderot (Photo: Pinterest)



The landmarker in his life was at the age of 52, when his daughter got married but he had no money to pay for a dowry. However, he is still widely known for being the co-author of the Encyclopédie encyclopedia. Knowing about Diderot’s financial condition, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great offered to buy his library for 1,000 GBP, equivalent to 50,000 USD in 2015.

To reward himself, Diderot buys an expensive robe. Having a robe, he began to think about buying some accessories around to make the shirt looks perfect. From replacing the new one carpet, buying a mirror, replacing the old chair with a leather chair to decorating the house with sculptures, Diderot fell into debt, even almost went bankrupt.

As a philosopher, Diderot rewrote this story in one of his essays for thinking more deeply. He explained that the old robe is a part of his son and mach up well with other furniture such as the rattan chair, the wooden table, the old carpet. When it comes to buying a new robe, everything becomes out of place. Diderot wanted to replace the furniture to match the new shirt, so… life did not entice him, he just fell by himself

200 years later, Harvard economist Juliet Schroer mentioned this story in a book titled “American Excessive Spending”, and also give the conception “Diderot Effect” to refer to the cycle consumer that makes you want more comes from buying a new item. Due to the Diderot effect, we buy a lot of things we don’t need but still don’t feel happier or more fulfilled.

To limit wasteful shopping habits from the Diderot effect, you need to know how to manage personal finances. By writing down all your expenses, big or small, in a notebook, you will control your expenses, thereby making reasonable shopping decisions.

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