Research findings that relate to the content of this website

Some studies related to the propositions on this website are mentioned below.
Keep in mind that researchers always stress that the findings and conclusions of such studies need to be seen as tentative and may well be challenged by other studies.
Some links will be provided but you can always do your own searches in libraries and on the web.


All Actions Have Consequences

Research related to this proposition:-

In their book “Willpower: Rediscovering our Greatest Strength” Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney report studies showing a connection between willpower/self-control shown at a very early age and life outcomes in later years.  The following is an excerpt from the book’s introduction:-

The strongest evidence yet was published in 2010.  In a painstaking long-term study, much larger and more thorough than anything done previously, an international team of researchers tracked one thousand children in New Zealand from birth until the age of thirty two. Each child’s self-control was rated in a variety of ways (through observations by researchers as well as in reports of problems from parents, teachers, and the children themselves). This produced an especially reliable measure of children’s self-control, and the researchers were able to check it against an extraordinarily wide array of outcomes through adolescence and into adulthood.  The children with high self-control grew up into adults who had better physical health, including lower rates of obesity, fewer sexually transmitted diseases and even healthier teeth. (Apparently, good self-control includes brushing and flossing.) Self-control was irrelevant to adult depression, but its lack made people more prone to alcohol and drug problems. The children with poor self-control tended to wind up poorer financially. They worked in relatively low-paying jobs, had little money in the bank, and were less likely to own a home or have money set aside for retirement. They also grew up to have more children being raised in single-parent households, presumably because they had a harder time adapting to the discipline required for a long-term relationship. The children with good self-control were much more likely to wind up in a stable marriage and raise children in a two parent home. Last, but certainly not least, the children with poor self-control were more likely to end up in prison. Among those with the lowest levels of self-control, more than 40 percent had a criminal conviction by the age of thirty-two, compared with just 12 percent of the people who had been toward the high end of the self-control distribution in their youth.

Not surprisingly, some of these differences were correlated with intelligence and social class and race-but all these results remained significant even when those factors were taken into account. In a follow-up study, the same researchers looked at brothers and sisters from the same families so that they could compare children who grew up in similar homes. Again, over and over, the sibling with the lower self-control during childhood fared worse during adulthood. They ended up sicker, poorer, and were more likely to spend time in prison. The results couldn’t be clearer: Self-control is a vital strength and key to success in life.

Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, Willpower: Rediscovering our Greatest Strength, 2011, Allen Lane / Penguin Books, London.

A PDF of the study referred to is available from PNAS –The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
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Our Desires Are Endless

Research related to this proposition:-

This is a brief summary of the main conclusions of “The High Price Of Materialism” By Tim Kasser.  This book reports on research done into connections between materialism and well-being. 

People who are highly focused on materialistic values have lower personal well‑being and psychological health than those who believe that materialistic pursuits are relatively unimportant.

The studies document that strong materialistic values are associated with a pervasive undermining of people’s well‑being, from low life satisfaction and happiness, to depression and anxiety, to physical problems such as headaches, and to personality disorders, narcissism, and antisocial behaviour.

Materialistic values become prominent in the lives of some individuals who have a history of not having their needs well met. These values are symptoms or signs that some needs remain unfulfilled. But materialistic values also lead people to organize their lives in ways that do a poor job of satisfying their needs.

Many different types of studies show that when needs for security, safety, and sustenance are not fully satisfied, people place a strong focus on materialistic values and desires.

When people make progress in their materialistic ambitions, they may experi­ence some temporary improvement of mood, but it is likely to be short ­lived and superficial. When people feel the emptiness of either material success or failure, they often persist in thinking that more will be better, and thus continue to strive for more material possessions. In the process, they receive relatively poor satisfaction of their needs for competence and esteem, fail to correct the underlying psychological issues, and ignore other important psychological needs all to the detriment of their well‑being.

Materialistic values of wealth, status, and image work against close interpersonal relationships and connection to others, two hallmarks of psychological health and high quality of life. Several studies using samples of preschoolers, college students, and adults from all over the world reveal that valuing materialistic pursuits conflicts with valuing many characteristics of high­ quality relationships as well as betterment of one’s community and world.  Thus, materialistic values lead people to “invest” less in their relationships and in their communities. Notably, this relative lack of care for connectedness is reflected in low quality relationships characterized by little empathy and generosity, and by objectification, conflict, and feelings of alienation. Such values thus weaken the fibres that bind couples, friends, families, and communities together, thereby working against the satisfaction of our needs for intimacy and connection.

Materialistic values are associated with placing little value on freedom and self‑direction, thereby decreasing the likelihood of satisfying these needs. Individuals strongly concerned with materialistic values also enter experiences focused on obtaining rewards and praise, rather than on enjoying the challenges and inherent pleasures of activities. As such, they miss out on experiences of autonomy and authenticity. Furthermore, their values direct them to­ward activities such as watching television and shopping.  Finally, materialistic values are associated with a tendency to feel pressured and compelled. All of this suggests that, rather than providing paths to freedom and autonomy, people feel chained, pres­sured, and controlled when they focus on materialistic values.

Materialistic values not only undermine the wellbeing of those who strongly hold them, but also negatively affect the health and happiness of many others. When interactions with people are based on such values, less empathy and intimacy are present in relationships, and materialistic values are more likely to be transmitted to the next generation. The broader community will also be damaged when those in power objectify others in their pursuit of wealth and status. Finally, Earth’s health suffers as these values lead individuals to consume at unsustainable and damaging rates.

Research shows that people are happier to the extent that they focus on values for self-­acceptance, good relationships, and contributions to the community.

Tim Kasser is an American psychologist and book author known for his work on materialism and well-being. He is currently a professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. He has authored numerous scientific articles and book chapters on materialism, values, goals, well-being, and environmental sustainability, among other topics. He has become increasingly involved with activist groups who work against the commercialization of children and who work towards a more inwardly rich lifestyle than what is offered by consumerism.

Tim Kasser,The High Price of Materialism, 2002, A Bradford Book, The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

For a superb animated video, “The High Price of Materialism” by The Center for a New American Dream, go to