I'm James Wallman — author, entrepreneur, futurist. Welcome to The Future Is Here. We provide sensible, robust, useful strategic advice to people like you.

Materialism may not make you lonely

By Flickr user  JD Hancock

By Flickr user JD Hancock

There is much evidence to suggest that focusing on experiences rather than material goods can lead to more happiness.

But this doesn't necessarily hold in all cases. 

If you buy something purely for fun, it can be good for you, as Rik Pieters at Tilburg University discovered in a paper published in 2013.

Here are the key take-outs: 

  • 2,500 consumers were studied over six years
  • Loneliness may cause materialism
  • Materialism does not necessarily loneliness
  • Loneliness increased over time for consumers who valued material possessions as a measure of success or a type of "happiness medicine" — what you might call “retail therapy”
  • Loneliness decreased for those who sought possessions just for the sheer joy and fun of consumption
  • Single people are lonelier than other people (who’d have thought that!)

Read more on an article which summarises the study, read Materialism and loneliness: is there really a vicious cycle?

Or the full paper, Bidirectional Dynamics Of Materialism and Loneliness: Not Just a Vicious Cycle.

How to nudge: update

Zen and the art of travel in a connected world