Effects of Consumerism on Mental Health and Wellbeing

A researched argument paper of 8-10 pages using at least 10 sources, and which requires students
to implement a research plan; use a rhetorically effective method of organization; formulate,
develop, and support a thesis using sound evidence, reasoning, and appropriate appeals; and
incorporate alternate positions into a sustained argument. Finally, students reflect on their
learning experience in a reflective component either part of the assignment or as a follow-up assignment.

Length: 8-10 pages, as per MLA essay format plus Works Cited page
Required Sources:
The World Happiness Report, plus any 2 other sources already provided to the class, plus 7 other sources that you find on your own. That is a total of 10 sources.

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Effects of Consumerism on Health and Well-being

Consumerism entails increasing the consumption of services and goods sold in the market, influences happiness and well-being, and is always a desirable goal to obtain material possessions and consumer goods. Consumerism has resulted in a capitalist economy, including a lifestyle of excessive consumption, materialism, and wastefulness. Therefore, consumerism has influenced life and traditional values, thus leading to adverse psychological effects. This paper will focus on the impact of consumerism on the health and well-being of individuals.

Consumption of goods has been a function of culture. The modern consumerism society has led to the most significant problem due to overconsumption of resources. Consumerism, which is considered conspicuous consumption of goods to increase happiness, has been highlighted as one of the current social evils. Ideally, consumerism has rapidly grown due to industrialization, which has led to high consumption of goods and services. This trend has increased evidently as global consumption expands.

Considerably, the idea of industrialization is that human beings would benefit from good, quality, and improved lifestyles. However, the reality is that production and consumption have become unstable.  Over the years, the effects of consumerism on well-being and health have been building. Consumerism has been one of the unchallenged doctrines in society despite the adverse effects on society’s well-being. Well-being inequality in the society has been measure by the level of happiness. Changes in the world happiness have indicated that happiness has revolved around subjective well-being and social environments (WHR). Purchasing items to meet basic needs plays an essential role in life. However, materialistic tendencies have been linked to reduced happiness, life satisfaction, low social cooperation, vitality, and increased anxiety and depression.

The demand for materialistic possession has led to high consumerism. Lack of materialistic possession has led to low self-actualization, happiness, anxiety, and vitality (Fergie, 5). There has been a consistent and clear negative association between personal well-being and consumerism. For instance, in America, cultural norms have promoted consumerism as a way of increasing satisfaction. Consumerism has been considered the importance that consumers place on the attainment of materialistic possession, which is seen as a statement for success in their career and life. Therefore, consumerism has led to a negative influence on satisfaction.

Consumerism has focused on materialistic possession in excessive amounts that consumers consider effective in meeting their economically desirable goals. This behavior has been associated with happiness, social status, and well-being in society. Ideally, individuals tend to feel a sense of great pleasure, accomplishment, satisfaction, and happiness when they can shop and acquire new clothes, home appliances, sports gear, and luxury items. Considerably, the ability to possess these things has greatly affected the shoppers and their immediate family due to increased pressure to possess these things. This has led to insecurities among individuals due to their social status, thus low self-esteem.


Mental Health problems

Consumerism culture and behavior has presented mental health problems to the consumers and immediate family. This is because materialistic possession has been linked to satisfaction, personal life, happiness, and social status. Therefore, material possession has made many people live stressful lives due to their demands. Ideally, most individuals cannot satisfy and finance their consumerism behavior to prove identity projection, financial achievement, high social status, and success. Individuals that lack financial resources to fund and maintain their consumption have fallen into anxiety and depression due to low satisfaction and low self-esteem. Mental health problems have lowered self-control, increased spending, and influenced personal financial management.

The excessive value people put on materialistic possessions in life results in life dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. Otero-López describes materialistic people as individuals that focus on affirming their social status and living unhappy lives due to societal assimilation and increased consumer behavior (329). This is because the anxiety and desire to expose excessive consumption with the need for success and power lead to depressive and anti-social behavior.

Social Pressure

Over the years, consumers have been addicted to acquisition leading to a cultural shift towards consumerism. Consumerism has encouraged the consumption and acquisition of goods and services in excess more than the individual’s basic needs. Consumerism has been all about materialism and the things that drive self-actualization, self-esteem, and satisfaction. People live under social pressure, which has led to overspending on cars, luxury brands, and technological devices as natural things in society. Psychological research has indicated that individuals who organize their lives around consumerism objectives such as acquiring products have poorer moods tend to be unhappy in their relationships, and experience other psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.

Consumerism not only impacts finances but also affects well-being. Considerably, studies have indicated that materialistic value orientation has been associated with low well-being. Materialistic value orientation has been considered a form of psychological imprisonment where individuals have been caged to construct their social identity through material goods (Dittmar, 879). Consumerism has been a long-term endorsement of goals, values, and beliefs that center on the importance of acquiring possessions to convey status. Consumerism has been associated with a materialistic value orientation, which is expected to bring status, image, recognition, and greater happiness (Kasser, 489). Consumerism has led to individuals placing great value on status, wealth, and material possessions. Such spending has been linked to anti-social status and depression.

People with high consumerism values have goal orientations that have led to poor well-being (Shrum, 1858). Ideally, individuals that have organized their lives around extrinsic achievements such as product acquisition have reported greater unhappiness, more psychological issues, and poorer moods. For instance, the consumerism culture within western societies damaged the personal sense of satisfaction and well-being.

High Debt Levels

Consumerism has resulted in increased debt levels, resulting in mental issues such as depression and stress. For instance, American household debt, including student loans, mortgages, credit cards, and car loans, has increased tremendously. This is because most Americans rush to purchase the latest cars, trends in fashion, and house furnishing on credit. For this reason, most have deferred from a real need for a financial budget, plan, and retirement savings.

Impulsive buying has led to more unhappiness, depression, anxiety, and discontent (Roy, 63). Considerably, attempting to follow the latest trends when one has limited resources can be very exhausting to the body and mind. Consumerism has forced individuals to work harder, spend less time with friends and families, and borrow more money to meet their needs and long lasting fulfillment.  The financial issues have led to debts making the family members susceptible to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and constrained living. Individuals that struggle to pay off their loans and debts are more likely to experience mental health issues.

Anxious feelings have risen due to constant money worries, feeling overwhelmed, and hopelessness. Considerably, debt-related anxieties result from a lack of support from individuals surrounding such as friends and family. Debt-related fear has resulted in a lack of quality sleep, which influences energy levels and mood. This is due to the feelings of embarrassment, hopelessness, and guilt that the problem is out of control.

Redefined Identity

Starting from a young age, people have been consuming advertisements in various ways. People get exposed to diverse possessions through social media platforms and advertising where new products are available and displayed daily. Consumerism has thrived due to appearance, which is promoted by adverts. For instance, social media ads have put pressure on girls to live their everyday lives. Ideally, human identity is no longer determined by what an individual does but their materialistic possession (Hill, 347). This has increased the demand for raw materials, being a constant pressure to buy, which leads to stress and anxiety. Therefore, an individual’s emotional well-being has been influenced by addiction to materialistic possession.

Comparing Americans today and in the early 90s, today people eat out twice as often, own many cars, and enjoy other endless commodities. However, the level of happiness has lowered compared to the early days since the young adults have been brought up with much affluence, greater risks of depression, less happiness, and social pathology (Large). This has greatly influenced the well-being since consumerism has led to people chasing after material wealth, which has disrupted social life. Even those who have succeeded in accomplishing their goals, such as material wealth and personal status, have primarily remained unhappy due to their identity shift.

Psychological and physical Health Issues

Consumerism has influenced the psychological and physical health of individuals through erosion of true self and self-worth. Considerably, the erosion of true self has been replaced by false self with the spiritual health eroding spiritual connections and replacing it with materialistic possession. Consumers have been frustrated by dishonest product promotion due to the competition of products due to consumerism (Hain). Producers have relied on deceiving methods such as photo-enhanced images that are very attractive. Consequently, the products have failed to meet the consumer needs hence frustrations due to losses incurred.

While companies are enjoying high profits due to overconsumption from children, they have redefined children’s identities. Considerably, children have been defined by their consumption, which has affected their mental and physical health and limits their creativity. Modern-day children are living in a culture that is consumption driven due to consumer actions. The drive towards consumption and materialism have influenced psychological functions such as addictive behavior, which have paved the way towards negative self-actualization and low self-esteem. The disturbing trends have robbed children, not only their emotional levels but also their physical well-being. For instance, health concerns such as high obesity rates among children have increased over the years.

Consumerism is negatively linked to the well-being of adolescents, young children, and adults. There are varying aspects of consumerism that have a stronger link with well-being than others between the group differences. Consumerist values have been positively linked to low well-being and dissatisfaction. Focusing on adults, consumerism has been linked to overall negative life satisfaction. Among adults, non-generosity, high levels of possessiveness, and envy have been linked to low self-esteem and life satisfaction. For instance, young adults have valued financial success above other needs, which have led to poorer well-being.

There has existed a relationship between adolescents and children amid consumerism and anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, anxiety, and low self-esteem (Sweeting, 803). For instance, there has been a high parent-child conflict in the UK due to behavioral and emotional problems that result from consumerist values. Consumerism on individuals has been linked to alarming rates of obesity, which have influenced individual well-being. Overconsumption has led to obesity, which further results in social problems. The number of overweight individuals in the world has increased drastically. Obesity influences the quality of life and results in psychological issues such as low self-esteem and depression.



Environmental Pollution

Consumerism has been a leading cause of environmental degradation due to pollution and waste, impacting the quality of health. Ideally, consumerism has led to the acquaintance of products that fail to meet the buyer’s needs, thus ending up as waste. Production companies have become active environmental polluters due to increased production. Exposure to extreme levels of pollution can lead to a range of adverse health outcomes. Pollution has been linked to a broad series of adverse health outcomes that have affected individuals’ subjective well-being. For instance, the number of cars on the roads has increased due to the high demand to possess personal vehicles. This has highly contributed to the urban population daily. The quality of air influences human health, thus impact the quality of life.

Ideally, a pollution-free environment has led to a better quality of life. High pollution within cities due to the way people consume energy through transport, among others, has resulted in more emissions that are harmful to health. Many body organs can be harmed by pollution leading to respiratory diseases, damage to the reproductive, cardiovascular damage, and nervous system damage, which impact psychological well-being. Therefore, as a result of consumerism, environmental degradation has been a significant environmental risk in the progression of some diseases impacting the quality of life.


Consumerism has led to poverty in varying ways, thus affecting the well-being of families. As a result of consumerism, industrial competition has led to the loss of jobs after some firms cease to exist in the industry. Relatively, the product prices have continued to increase due to high consumerism. Increased consumerism has led to inflation, which the government attempts to control by raising the commodities’ basic prices. As a result, middle and low-level incomes have suffered due to high purchasing power.

Middle-income earners have failed to save due to consumerism values associated with spending rather than saving. Ideally, most middle-income earners are young adults between the ages of 20 and 45, which shows why they are linked to consumerism. At this age, most individuals are pleased by acquiring whatever pleases them rather than saving money for their future. This has led to income poverty at old age due to debt and lack of savings. Such decisions have led to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders at old age.

Improved Quality of life and Economy

Despite the numerous negative impacts of consumerism, it has also been associated with positive impacts in improving living standards, which boost individual well-being. When individuals demand more, they purchase goods in excess and spend more, which creates the cycle of demand leading to better production and employment. Consumerism has also allowed individuals to better access services and goods that improve lives (Drapińska, 105). Quality of life is a measure of an individual’s contentment regarding meeting the fundamental needs.  As stated above, consumerism is important in assisting the public in meeting these needs.  In this case, consumerism has generated a method by which individuals may access diverse products and services correlated to satisfying their essential requirements, for example, nourishment, clothing, and accommodation.  By helping people meet these needs, consumerism has improved the lives of many people. Drapińska considers consumerism a significant element to the advancement of the economy on a nationwide and universal level (103).  Consumerism is regarded as a concept that persons obtain products on a large scale from manufacturers. The structure is extremely significant to the well-being and economy as it is a key aspect in creating jobs and wealth.  For instance, in a consumerist culture, the continuous acquisition of goods offers numerous jobs to diverse industries and individuals.  This comprises the business proprietors that manufacture the products and the personnel that works directly in designing and producing particular products. These individuals may consist of factory personnel, engineers, promoters, among others.

Additionally, there are several indirectly related occupations generated in other sectors, such as transportation and construction. Vast business entities’ development generates jobs for the public because they construct storerooms and stores for the merchandise.  The creation of jobs is imperative as it is a major aspect of a consumerist community (Figueroa, 113). For instance, the jobs generated from consumerist activities are an effective method of dispensing wealth through the community from the customers to the manufacturers and ultimately to the workforce. Therefore, the standards of living are bound to improve due to consumerism.


Health and well-being have been linked to an individual’s quality of life, which entails the desired state of subjective well-being concerning real world problems and satisfaction. On average, individuals and households spend more than one-third of their income on housing and meeting their fundamental needs. Ideally, people have used the phrase that money cannot buy happiness. However, many people have attempted to purchase happiness through a materialist approach in their lives. Consumerism has both negative and positive effects on the health and well-being of individuals within consumerist society. On the positive side, consumerism has contributed to economic growth due to increased employment and production, thus improving people’s living standards and well-being. On the other hand, it has negatively affected individuals’ physical and mental health due to high debt levels, redefined identity, depression, anxiety, vitality, pressure due to addiction, and demand for materialistic possession. Pollution due to increased production has also influenced society’s health, which is dependent on a healthy environment. Therefore, consumerism has both negative and positive effects on consumerist society.



Works Cited

Dittmar, Helga, et al. “The relationship between materialism and personal well-being: A meta-analysis.” Journal of personality and social psychology 107.5 (2014): 879.

Drapińska, Anna. “Consumerism and the Quality of Life.” Handel Wewnętrzny 370.5 (2017): 103-110.

Fergie, Lois. “Consumerism is Making Us Sick, But That’s Just What Capitalism Wants.” A Student Journal on Contemporary Sociological Issues (2019): 1-5.

Figueroa, Adolfo. “Consumerism in the Economic Growth Process.” Economics of the Anthropocene Age. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2017. 113-152.

Hain, Margit. “How good products make you feel: The underlying emotions of ethical consumerism.” Maastricht University Journal of Sustainability Studies 3 (2017).

Hill, Jennifer Ann. “Endangered childhoods: How consumerism is impacting child and youth identity.” Media, Culture & Society 33.3 (2011): 347-362.

Kasser, Tim. “Materialistic values and goals.” Annual review of psychology 67 (2016): 489-514.

Large, Chris. Rethinking consumerism for the sake of young people’s mental health (and the planet). 24 May 2018. https://www.greenfunders.org/2018/05/24/rethinking-consumerism-for-the-sake-of-young-peoples-mental-health-and-the-planet/. 14 November 2020.

Otero-López, José Manuel, and Estibaliz Villardefrancos. “Materialism and addictive buying in women: the mediating role of anxiety and depression.” Psychological Reports 113.1 (2013): 328-344.

Roy, Sumit. “Consumerism and its Effect in the Contemporary Times.” Indira Management Review 11.1 (2017): 63-69.

Shrum, L. J., et al. “Materialism: The good, the bad, and the ugly.” Journal of Marketing Management 30.17-18 (2014): 1858-1881.

Sweeting, Helen, Kate Hunt, and Abita Bhaskar. “Consumerism and well-being in early adolescence.” Journal of Youth Studies 15.6 (2012): 802-820.

WHR. World Happiness Report. (2020). Available at: https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2020/



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