Americans toss out 140 million cell phones every year. We discard 2 million plastic bottles every five minutes. And our total credit-card debt as of July 2011 is $793 billion.
Plus, credit cards can make you fat.
The American Dream was founded on the belief that anyone dedicated to thrift and hard work could create opportunities and achieve a better life. Now that dream has been reduced to a hyperquantified desire for fancier clothes, sleeker cars, and larger homes. Weve lost our way, but James Roberts argues that its not too late to find it again. In Shiny Objects, he offers us an opportunity to examine our day-to-day habits, and once again strive for lives of quality over quantity.
Mining his years of research into the psychology of consumer behavior, Roberts gets to the heart of the often-surprising ways we make our purchasing decisions. What he and other researchers in his field have found is that no matter what our income level, Americans believe that we need more to live a good life. But as our standard of living has climbed over the past forty years, our self-reported happiness levels have flatlined.
Roberts isnt merely concerned with the GDP or big-ticket purchasesdamaging spending habits play out countless times a day, in ways big and small: he demonstrates that even the amount we spend at our favorite fast-food joint increases anywhere from 60 to 100 percent when we use a credit card instead of cash. Every time we watch TV or turn on a radio were exposed to marketing messages (experts estimate up to 3,000 of them daily). Consumption is king, and its toll is not just a financial one: relationships are suffering, too, as materialism encroaches on the time and value we give the people around us.
By shedding much-needed light on the science of spending, Roberts empowers readers to make smart changes, improve self-control, and curtail spending. The American Dream is still ours for the taking, and Shiny Objects is ultimately a hopeful statement about the power we each hold to redefine the pursuit of happiness.
James A. Roberts is a professor of marketing at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he has been a faculty member since 1991. Roberts is a nationally recognized expert on consumer behavior, and his research on compulsive buying, credit-card abuse, and the way that materialism affects our quality of life has been featured in media outlets including ABCs World News, NPR, the New York Times, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan.
“Shiny Objects is a superb explanation of how, why, and when Americans became obsessed with consumption. This book is both entertaining and thought-provoking as it forces the reader to confront his or her own views and values. For that reason alone, it is worth its weight in gold.”
-Jim Randel, author of The Skinny on Willpower: How to Develop Self-Discipline
“Without shying away from the unpopular truth, Roberts encourages us to step back, notice, and yes, even laugh at our obsession with shiny objects. Important research findings and Practical exercises help us embrace our values and understand that we can never get enough of what we don’t really need.”
-April Lane Benson, Ph.D. author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop
“Now along comes Shiny Objects, which promises to explore and explain Americans’ possession obsession. Roberts’ book contains hard evidence for some claims you probably already suspected were true... [and] includes some genuinely sobering statistics. Roberts knows his stuff.”
“Roberts... gives us evidence that we can’t buy happiness, or stress relief, despite the fact that the current version of the American Dream tells us otherwise. This [book] contains both the plain truth and real-world solutions for the financial dilemma many... are struggling with.”
-New Age Retailer
“Shiny Objects [is] an intellectual approach to an emotionally charged subject-—consumerism—with suggestions on how to escape materialism and build a life with real meaning.”
“Marketing professor Roberts examines the perceived relationship between materialism and happiness in the quest for status, self-image, or comfort, and the havoc it is wreaking in individual lives and the U.S. economy. A far-reaching analysis of why we spend so much and how to break the habit.”
“Dr. James A. Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor, has studied consumerism in America and has revealed some of the secrets of marketers in his recent book Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have In Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy.”
“An intriguing cultural history–cum–self-help book with abundant hard scientific data.”