Social Question

cockswain's avatar

Do you think there is a correlation between intelligence and consumerism/materialism?

Asked by cockswain (15271points) March 31st, 2010

Do you think, on average, more intelligent people feel they need to buy less things to feel satisfied? Or do you think there is another reason for feeling the need to acquire lots of possessions? Intelligent people may be more satisfied by learning. There is no question that there are people of all walks of life that buy simply to fill a void in there life. I know intelligent people who both buy little or lots, but I’m wondering what you think the overall relationship might be. Perhaps love is the factor?

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25 Answers

Just_Justine's avatar

I think it’s more a self esteem issue personally and a lack of sense of self.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is certainly an interesting question. There are different kinds of intelligence and I wouldn’t draw any direct relationship that you mention with any of them. Sometimes, people are more conscious about others because of life experience and that leads them to consume less. Sometimes there have high EQ and empathize with others. I will say that since some intelligent people consider reading and educating oneself to be important, they are more likely to learn of the effect their consumerism has on the community as well as the world. But I am assuming they’re socially conscious which doesn’t always come with intelligence.

Trillian's avatar

Lack of critical thinking.

Cruiser's avatar

I would say a definite yes to that but as with most anything there are exceptions to every rule of thumb. Consumerism targets the emotional aspects of our lives…those decisions that are impulse buys and I feel smarter people are more adept at analyzing their needs and will make purchasing decisions base on careful consideration of their needs more or less avoiding these impulse purchases marketing managers again target and try and capitalize on these impulses that drive many purchasing decisions.

nikipedia's avatar

I can’t say I’ve observed any relationship between the two. I go to school with lots of brilliant people and plenty of them are packrats, hoarders, and shopaholics. I know a brilliant 36 year old guy who sleeps on a mattress on the floor of his empty room. On the other hand, my equally brilliant roommate needs to buy new clothes weekly to be happy and frequently goes shopping to cheer herself up.

Some people just like owning stuff. What can you do.

TexasDude's avatar

I know some pretty smart people that own a lot of stuff, and I know some real airheads that ascribe to the idea that material possessions are somehow inherently evil, but that’s all anecdotal, and who cares what I say anyway?

marinelife's avatar

No, not at all. I think there are very materialistic people of all IQ ranges.

jackm's avatar

I think there may be a correlation between arrogance and thinking this.

Hexr's avatar

People who have a low desire for cognitive involvement (e.g critical thinking and the like) tend to react to persuasion using their primary response, which is emotional. It takes active cognitive involvment ro override this initial emotional response and apply reasoning skills to the situation. Those low in cognitive involvement will be less likely to consider the situation after their initial apparaisal, and will stick with their more emotional response. People high in cognitive involvement will reconsider using their reasoning and critical thinking skills to weigh the pros and cons and therefore would be far less susceptible to persuasion by advertising. There is generally a positive correlation between intelligence and cognitive involvement, although it’s not as high as one might think. People can be intelligent but mentally lazy, and vice versa.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Not desiring material items is more a trait of wisdom.

LostInParadise's avatar

I think there may be a tendency among academics be less inclined toward materialism. As to intelligent people in general I am not sure.

TheOnlyException's avatar

You pose an interesting question.
It would make sense that intelligent people would be satisfied by learning, and it is widely believed that shallow, unintelligent people are the ones doing all the impulse buying.
That being said, we are all still human, intelligent or not, and we are all taken in by flashy advertising from time to time, and we all like to show our importance and success with material possessions, logic cannot be applied to every situation.

phillis's avatar

Considering that ads target our insecurities, greed and self-esteem, most definitely. We’re talking about two different types of intelligence, though. One is presumably IQ, while the other is EQ (emotional intelligence). A secure person can often see right through the ridiculous claims that some products tout (antiwrinkle cremes claim to redue the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, for example).

Still others have made it a personal mission to learn how to buy smart, and consequently beat the system by changing thier buying habits. I think you’re onto something with your train of thought. It takes a person who is balanced to navigate the gamut of purposely misleading ads designed to have your wallet in one room and you in another.

Kraigmo's avatar

People who’ve never experienced real… true… realtime fun in their lives tend to be materialistic.

Once you’ve had some real fun, materialism and stupid movies will never cut it again.

The reliance on those things is healthy for teens and children, but immature for adults.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think @marinelife got it right, it’s not a matter of intelligence, but more of self-esteem.

cockswain's avatar

I like the distinction drawn between EQ and IQ. Reading these answers, I think I’m more inclined to believe it has more to do with emotional insecurity rather than intelligence. For example, I know a really smart radiologist who buys lots of expensive cars. But he hates his job and isn’t as happy as one might expect a successful man to be. I know another lady who is well-off, and buys lots of expensive new clothes all the time, only to give them away about a year later. This indicates to me the act of buying cool things provides a short-term satisfaction that fills an emptiness. Maybe a another/better question would be which is more dependent on the other, EQ or IQ? It occurs to me that it may be difficult for an person, intelligent or not, to further develop or better utilize their intellect if an emptiness nags at them.

@jackm I wasn’t implying I’m intelligent, so you’re a prick for insinuating I’m arrogant. Just trying to enjoy an interesting discussion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Love is the factor? Please explain.

cockswain's avatar

Not that I have the answer, but my thinking was along the lines of if you feel loving and are loved, you may see materialistic pursuits are less important.

Jeruba's avatar

My experience supports the view that there is no correlation.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I cannot help but agree with @Jeruba.

@cockswain Can you define love for me? Not a dictionary definition. But in your own words, what is love to you?

I’m fairly confident that we will have vastly different views on what love is for us. But I’m not here to judge or debate your view. Hearing your interpretation may better help me to understand the correlation you posit between love and materialism.

mattbrowne's avatar

It has to do with personal growth. Both IQ and EQ do help a bit with that. But there are plenty of high-IQ folks owning three yachts and finding it difficult to sleep at night because the guy across the street in Hillsborough owns four yachts.

jackm's avatar

@cockswain It doesn’t matter if you implied that you were intelligent or not, as it has no bearing on my statement. It is still arrogant to assume that people with low IQs need to buy things to make themselves happy.

cockswain's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies For the last couple days, every time I’ve contemplated how to define love in words, I’ve had a difficult time. Either I’ll be overly simplistic, or boringly long. So either you define love and we’ll start there, or we can just assume our definitions for love are as similar as they are likely to be for emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, or hatred.

@mattbrowne I agree with you, I hadn’t originally thought about the EQ connection and I see that as most likely the stronger factor.

@jackm Just to even wonder is arrogant? Go judge someone else.

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