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Revolution of values

In the February issue of the Psychologist magazine, Associate Professor Tim Kasser puts forward a convincing argument attacking western materialism. He argues that we have become a thing centred, rather than person centred, culture and that this has several consequences: it is leading to unhappiness; harming the environment and destroying social connections. He calls for a revolution of values.

Kasser argues that placing a high value on material things has psychological, social and ecological costs. The research shows that Materialistic people display larger ecological footprints, are less satisfied with life, lack vitality, suffer from anxiety and depression, are more antisocial , less empathetic, more competitive and less cooperative than people who value things such as personal growth and community feeling.
Kasser draws upon research and examples from the U.S.  He says that it is common to see children being directly targeted by marketers.  For example, In Florida, children receive adverts for free McDonald meals on their school report cards.  Even leaders are inspiring people through extrinsic values, like money; President Bush was worried that people would stop shopping or doing business after 9/11.
What is Kassers answer to the materialistic focus with in western society? He argues for three things: we need to move from extrinsic to intrinsic values.  What he means by this is that we should be valuing things such as our relationships with the community and personal growth over popularity or money.  He suggests that we should choose to work, earn and consume less ? what he terms ?voluntary simplicity?.  Studies show that people who adopt voluntary simplicity are happier and ecologically responsible.
Kasser also argues for a shift in the way we measure progress.  He says that the research shows that measuring how much money a country turns over is not an accurate measure: we have become richer but not happier.  Lastly he argues that having more time is important. We now work, on average, 160 hours extra per year more than we did 30 years ago.  Having more time on our hands may mean that people can participate in the activities which will lead to fulfilment: such as volunteering and connecting with the community.  Kassers gives a great argument for why we need a revolution of values and how to go about it. To go to Kasser's website click here You can access his book 'The High Price of Materialism' on Amazon.

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