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The Diderot Effect: How Buying Fuels Itself

When the Diderot Effect loosens its grip

We live better lives than Denis Diderot and his peers and yet we always crave for more. We decide our refrigerator isn’t nice enough; not when the latest models are wifi-enabled with touch screens.

But our situation is more forgiving. We can always simplify. We can downsize into modest homes. We can shop less and give away more.

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The Diderot Effect: How Buying Fuels Itself

The Diderot Effect: How Buying Fuels Itself

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Key Ideas

The Diderot Effect

It is a term that characterizes the tendency for purchases to generate new purchases.

Example: We set up a gym membership, and then we think we need better workout clothes, headphones, towels, a combination lock, and a bag to carry everything.

History of the Diderot Effect

The French philosopher Denis Diderot became a wealthy man at age 52 and was able to afford small indulgences.

He started with a scarlet robe and continued with other items, because they were not matching the elegance of that robe. The joy of everything he bought was short-lived. Piece by piece, Diderot replaced every item in his home.

When the Diderot Effect loosens its grip

We live better lives than Denis Diderot and his peers and yet we always crave for more. We decide our refrigerator isn’t nice enough; not when the latest models are wifi-enabled with touch screens.

But our situation is more forgiving. We can always simplify. We can downsize into modest homes. We can shop less and give away more.

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