The Diderot effect: Why do we buy things that we don’t need?

Global InterGold


Have you ever wondered why you often buy needless things? It turns out that this phenomenon has a name — the Diderot effect.

One of the most peculiar aspects of buyer behavior, namely the tendency to consume more and more, has been named in honor of the French writer and philosopher of the 18th century Denis Diderot.

We explain the meaning of this effect and its impact on people’s lives.


What is the Diderot effect?

Denis Diderot lived in poverty most of his life. At the age of 52, being short on money, he sold his vast collection of books and became rich overnight. Shortly afterwards, he made his first extravagant acquisition: a luxurious red gown.

Diderot wished to surround himself with beautiful things, so he began buying expensive stuff: sculptures and paintings, exotic wooden furniture, mirrors in pricey frames...Every new purchase was more expensive than the previous one, but the writer got carried away.

The portrait of Denis Diderot in the red gown was painted by Dmitry Levitzky in 1773. The writer described his wasteful habits that changed his life in the essay "Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown".

The acquisition of expensive things created a "spiral of consumption", forcing the man to constantly buy new things to feel happy and rich. As a result, he faced financial problems again.

The Diderot effect refers to excessive consumerism — the need to surround oneself with goods that match in terms of value and are complementary to one another.


The problem of modernity

Advertising, media, social environment often push us to make expensive purchases, hence one expensive acquisition prompts us to spend money on other things that we have not considered buying at all. One purchase follows the other, triggering a mechanism of rapidly growing needs.

This consumer buying behavior is pretty common:

  • a person buys a new car and subsequently begins spending large sums of money on expensive tires and a high-class audio system;

  • having bought an expensive sofa in the living room, a person starts to notice that the rest of the furniture set looks rather old-fashioned compared to the new furnishings, and therefore it is necessary to buy more modern and expensive interior items;

  • when buying a trendy doll for a daughter, parents are forced to buy extra accessories for it: a dollhouse, a hairdressing kit, a set of outfits, which often costs more than the doll itself;

  • buying an expensive evening gown or a man's suit requires appropriate accessories to match the look: expensive shoes, jewelry, a stylish tie, a wristwatch.

The Diderot effect clearly shows the modern problem of consumers. People spend tons of money to buy things they don’t really need.

What is the reason for this behavior?

For humans, the satisfaction of needs is a perfectly natural desire. However, people tend to consume more and more. Oftentimes they buy unnecessary things, falling into the psychological trap of the Diderot effect — they crave to buy more new things to feel richer.

All in all, a person spends money in a careless way, not thinking about the future. Such a person is not concerned about the safety of savings, but on the contrary, spends all the money, even going over budget at times. Expenses increase along with ever-growing human needs, while cash inexorably runs out.

The reason why people cannot deal with the Diderot effect —

ineffective management of personal finances.

If you have felt the urge to make impulse purchases, if you doubt the safety of your finances, then it’s about time to do some damage control.

Is it possible to resolve the issue and get over the compulsive Diderot effect?

Yes, everything is possible!

You can do it by following the correct sequence of actions that lead to Financial Security.

The concept of Financial Security, developed by Global InterGold, is aimed at protection and accumulation of savings and effective management of personal finances, allowing everyone to spend money wisely.




Rate this article:
Created: 26.06.2019
Gold — a metal that makes history Gold — a metal that makes history
What does your client want?
What does your client want?
How to cope with criticism? How to cope with criticism?
A cash-free world: what are the risks? A cash-free world: what are the risks?
The Age of the Great Whining The Age of the Great Whining
Easy money: what are the risks? Easy money: what are the risks?
Can a robot take over your job?
Can a robot take over your job?
One day – two lives… One day – two lives…
On the path to success: the components of a good life On the path to success: the components of a good life
The number of rich people in the world is growing
The number of rich people in the world is growing
Take the test
and find out if you are exposed to the Lack of Financial Security virus.
Register on the platform to receive the test.