#118 – The Psychological Impact of Materialism



After receiving his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Rochester, Tim Kasser accepted a position at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology. He has authored over fifty-five scientific articles and book chapters on materialism, values, goals, and quality of life, among other topics. Tim’s first book, The High Price of Materialism, was published by MIT Press in 2002; his second book (co-edited with Allen D. Kanner), Psychology and Consumer Culture, was released by the American Psychological Association in 2004. Since 2005 Tim has served as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Personality Processes and Individual Differences. He also works with activist groups that try to protect children from commercialization and that encourage a more “inwardly rich” lifestyle than what is offered by consumerism. Tim lives with his wife, two sons, and assorted animals in the Western Illinois countryside.

(Psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.)



  1. suz
    Posted November 12, 2007 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    oh my god… i saw Dr Kasser comes from U Rochester and i almost fell off my chair – i was like, please, please, please let this relate to self-determination theory of deci and ryan – and it did … and i’m really interested that Dr Kasser seems to balance publish-or-perish academe with application. yay hoo

  2. Derrick Pohl
    Posted November 14, 2007 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    An exellent and timely complement to this interview with the highly sane Dr. Kasser on materialism would be a Shrink Rap interview with Dr. Bob Altemeyer, a psychologist at the University of Manitoba who has spent decades studying the authoritarian personality, and developing scientifically valid scales to measure this trait and its variations and subcategories.

    Dr. Altemeyer is also a very personable and articulate interviewee, as can be confirmed by listening to the fascinating hour-and-a-half long interview with him by George Kenney for the podcast “Electric Politics” at:


    That interview, and Dr. Altemeyer’s research on authoritarian personalities in general, may change forever how you think about human interactions from the interpersonal to the geopolitical, illuminating a whole new dimension that before you may have perceived dimly if at all. It has certainly had that effect for myself and other people, including the interviewer George Kenney himself.

    The insights and fundamental propositions that proceed from Dr. Altemeyer’s work have far-reaching implications for social, individual, and evolutionary psychology, and particular relevance to the present political environment that can at first be disheartening or even scary. But the harsh toke of reality is ultimately an essential precursor to a far better informed and clear-eyed engagement with the negative political and social fallout from the periodic runaway ascendance of the ineradicably present authoritarian element of human society.

    As good as the “Electric Politics” interview with Dr. Altemeyer is, host George Kenney is not a psychologist. Dr. Dave’s background in humanistic psychology is ideal for connecting to Dr. Altemeyer and his work in a quite different way, providing an additional perspective valuably complementing both Kenney’s interview with Dr. Altemeyer on authoritarianism, and Dr. Dave’s interview with Dr. Kasser on materialism, the connections between which will become readily apparent upon listening to both.

    I don’t have any further contact info for Dr. Altemeyer than “Psychology Dept., University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.” But I’m sure Dr. Dave has ways of connecting with other Psychology faculty in North America.

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