AOA 025: Materialism, Well-Being and the Human Value System – With Guest Tim Kasser

“In this culture or today, we’re taught over and over that one of the best ways to show that we’re successful, one of the best ways to have a happy, meaningful life, is to make a lot of money and buy a lot of stuff.”

-Tim Kasser

Looking for ways to help your children combat the pervasive notion of materialism? In this episode of The Art of Allowance Podcast, I have a discussion with Tim Kasser. Tim is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Knox College in Illinois. He has published over 125 scientific articles and chapters on materialism, values/goals, motivation, ecological sustainability and quality of life, among other topics. He has also authored five books that have been translated into a half-dozen languages. In short, you can learn a ton from Tim. I know I did, and I know you will by giving our conversation a listen. 

SHOW NOTES (Find what’s most interesting to you!)

  • Tim’s interest in materialism and its effects on well-being [2:12]
  • A definition of materialism [3:38]
  • The materialism paradox [4:26]
  • The dangers of materialism: extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, Self-Determination Theory and the human value system [11:05]
  • How to acknowledge materialistic tendencies while not allowing them to run rampant (For a deeper analysis, be sure to read Tim’s 2016 paper, “Materialistic Values and Goals,” as well as his 2018 book, Hypercapitalism.) [22:37]
  • Four ways for parents to combat materialism:
    • Limit exposure to materialistic messages, and teach children about advertisements. [25:13]
    • Prime, encourage and model intrinsic values. (Think of this behavior as a “values antidote.”) [30:34]
    • Recognize and remove (if possible) threats leading to materialistic tendencies. [34:56]
    • Get involved in the regulation of advertising advocated by various groups, including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. [41:14]
  • Money empowerment as enacting your own values [46:52]
  • Investing in play and music lessons [47:18]
  • “Don’t spend more money than you have.” [49:02]
  • Marketing and well-being [50:08]
  • Discovering more than you want to know about Tim on the web (You can download the paper mentioned above and watch a five-minute video about materialism.) [50:35]
  • Final thoughts and another resource to check out (The Knowledge Project’s interview of Jonathan Haidt) [52:07]

Wanting to delve deeper into the relationship between threat and materialism? Child psychology researcher Chuck Kalish can provide some insight into the concept of “toxic stress.”

If you like this podcast, then please give us a review and subscribe to the show. The Art of Allowance Podcast is available on iTunesSpotifyStitcher or Radio Public. Subscribing is free, and it will help me produce more enriching content for you to enjoy. Thanks!

You might also want to check out The Money Mammals, our program to get your children excited about money smarts when they’re young. Until next time, I wish you and your family well as you journey forth. Thanks for listening.