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The Interdisciplinary Science of Consumption$
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Stephanie D. Preston, Morten L. Kringelbach, and Brian Knutson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027670

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027670.001.0001

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The Psychology Of Acquisitiveness

The Psychology Of Acquisitiveness

(p.127) 7 The Psychology Of Acquisitiveness
The Interdisciplinary Science of Consumption

D. Preston Stephanie

D. Vickers Brian

The MIT Press

Human and nonhuman animals share an adaptive capacity to plan for the future by acquiring and saving important items, such as food to survive long, cold winters. In addition, humans amass material goods well beyond what they appear to need—a tendency that we refer to as “acquisitiveness.” The current chapter frames our view of acquisitiveness as a typical, human phenomenon that exists across individuals to varying degrees, from a “Spartan” desire to avoid excess possessions or clutter, through normal levels of acquisition, up through the excessive acquisition and retention observed in hoarding disorder. Acquisitiveness is adaptive at most levels but shares features in common with the excessive hoarding of clinical populations including hoarding disorder, OCD, frontal lobe syndrome, and eating disorders. Acquisitiveness appears to derive from multiple underlying instincts, including the tendency to hold on to goods that are needed in the future, the desire to display one’s quality to mates and social partners, and the “nesting instinct” to surround oneself with materials that afford a feeling of security. We summarize this framework and our own work on the phenomenon. Acquisitiveness is an important and ubiquitous human behavior that reflects adaptive instincts, which can nevertheless negatively impact personal finances, emotional well-being, and the environment in ways that we need to understand.

Keywords:   Acquisition, Hoarding, Anxiety, Decision Making, Consumption, Emotion

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