May 21, 2010

A poll about the way we feel about things.

I was just thinking about the way we feel about the things that belong to us. Picture all the personal and real property that you own and don't own — furniture, clothing, cars, houses, toys, gadgets, etc. etc. Now, let me set out 3 categories of how we might feel:

A. When I own something, it takes on special value and feels more precious to me than it did before I owned it or in comparison to similar things that I don't own.

B. When I own something, I'm more aware of its imperfections and problems, and I tend to feel that it's worse than it seemed before I owned it or in comparison to similar things that I don't own.

C. I have a pretty objective feeling about things, and they don't seem either better or worse when they  belong to me.

And here are 3 categories of how you might feel about acquiring more things.

D. I feel a fairly strong urge to acquire more things, not just what I'm sure I need, but additional things that will give me pleasure and satisfaction.

E. I am trying to resist acquiring more things.

F. I get what I need and maybe some extra things, but I don't put much mental energy into wanting to buy things or resisting.

Now, here's the poll, and please be honest:

Which of these combinations is closest to the way you feel?
A and D
A and E
A and F
B and D
B and E
B and F
C and D
C and E
C and F

  
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89 comments:

El Pollo Real said...

Most complex poll evah!

Roger J. said...

And how do you intend to analyze your results? Hint: factor analysis will yield some clues--Exploratory factor analysis rather than confirmatory factor analysis.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

I feel better about things if they're taken from others and then given to me by my thug friends who have taken over the government.

That's why I voted for Barack Obama.

He takes things from other people and if they don't pay up he puts them in jail. And then he gives their stuff to me - free of charge. All I have to do is vote straight-line Democrat.

It's a wonderful life.

You other people buy stuff with your own money?

What morons you are.

Big Mike said...

I just hope I'm not lying to myself.

AllenS said...

C and F. I guess.

I buy whatever I need, whenever I think I need it. If I need 10' of 2" x 2" angle iron, and it comes in either 20' or 24' lengths, I buy all of it. I'll have it cut at 10' so it's easier to haul.

A man can't have enough stuff.

Jason Greaves said...

Ann, I get the feeling that this poll may be in some way related to the Rand Paul posting from earlier.

A large number of people chose A. Think about home ownership, and what a special meaning a mere piece of property can take on for you as your make memories there of your life and children, etc.

I am not a business owner, but I imagine the relationship is similar. It takes on a special meaning as you pour your blood, sweat and tears into it, and when someone dares to impose upon it with arbitrary rules and regulations, it elicits a belligerent and self righteous reaction.

I imagine you would react similarly if government thugs entered your house and trashed the place.

I'm just proposing a window into the souls of those reactionary, strange, and frightening Libertarians out there.

TMink said...

After being flooded out, I feel much less likely to want to aquire as much. Seeing it dirty and on the floor was really profound in a good way. I hope this attitude sticks.

Trey

Ann Althouse said...

"Most complex poll evah!"

Wait until I do the one on relationships... modeled on this one.

former law student said...

In my 20s I bought some whizzbangy things, but now I just buy things that I need, when I need them. I am not completely objective: there are three things I own that I am irrationally fond of.

I've been toying with the idea of buying either an autoharp or a melodica, but I haven't been able to make myself get either.

Ann Althouse said...

Also more complex would be to repeat the options and change the question to: Which of these combinations in the previous poll has the largest number of votes from people who were lying (including lying to themselves)?

Ann Althouse said...

My motivation for composing this poll is that I've long been aware of having the feeling described in B, and I don't think it's a very nice feeling, but it's especially bad -- and sad -- if it's combined with D. It's rational to combine B, if you're afflicted with it, with F, but you might think you need a stronger remedy, that is, E.

Damon said...

Shocking results thus far. To think that in such a consumer orientated society so many people have chosen F. I guess that is the subtle beauty of modern day marketing.

Then again, everyone at this blog is more heady than materialistic! :)

chuck b. said...

I'm not sure why D&E is missing as an option.

Lynne said...

I don't feel I can honestly answer this poll because I feel differently about different types of possessions.
Take my wedding/engagement rings, for example. I feel a special pride and satisfaction in them that I don't feel for the old sneakers I wear in the garden.
I just can apply one blanket feeling to all my stuff.

In the second part, though, I'll go for F. For most things. Not everything.

Ann Althouse said...

C + F is getting a lot of votes from guys and liars.

Ann Althouse said...

@Lynne I know that's a limitation in the options, but exclude all the super-sentimental items like wedding rings. I'm looking for your basic orientation toward possessions.

ET1492 said...

C and D... and E for me. I like to buy video games, many of which I never even take out of the shrink wrap.

Be judicious about buying new Apple products and you will feel B less keenly, but D more keenly. That goes for just about any product, I guess.

My wife suffers from B. She makes a lot of returns... Drives me crazy.

Alex said...

Women like to buy more kitchen/bath things and men like to buy electronic gadgets.

Alex said...

My greatest attachment is to my computer setup, books, DVDs. The rest of it(furniture, kitchen stuff, clothes) I could care less.

John Stodder said...

In the past decade, I went through a cycle where I had a bit of money, but not a lot of space. So I evolved into someone who didn't think much about buying news stuff because I have so few places to put things. Then when money problems hit about five years ago, that mindset served me well, because now I really have to be careful. So if I finally break down and buy a new item of clothing, say, it's because I clearly need it, I choose it carefully, and once I get it I take good care of it. This is a change from my heedless youth. In a weird way, it makes me happier to live this way, although i'd love to be able to go on a swingin' vacation sometime.

John Stodder said...

Hence, A & F.

bagoh20 said...

I doubt those who choose C. Your own home, car, desk, gun, dog, etc is almost always more special to you than those belonging to another, even if you are not materialistic in nature. Even a bum prefers his own shopping cart and will fight to keep it.

Irene said...

C + F is getting a lot of votes from guys and liars.

Uh oh.

That said, I feel differently about different articles of property. My emotions about our house and my yarn, for example, are very different from my emotions about my clothing. The house and the yarn are "A," but most other stuff is "C."

Irene said...

And the dogs are "A+". But I don't think of them as "property."

Damon said...

B & D+E. Yeah, no fun at all.

I think there is a real correlation with self-awareness/materialistic value and happiness. Inversely proportional perhaps?

rdkraus said...

Ann

C + F is getting a lot of votes from guys and liars.

This is what I thought...as I was voting C + F.

LOL.

I think it's true for me, but I think a lot of others are kidding themselves.

Or maybe I am.

Damn.

Time for a Margarita.

I don't think I'm very attached to things. What things are even important to me? I have a great guitar. This should be special cause I love music. If I broke/lost it, I'd just buy another. Might even enjoy the opportunity to try something different.

former law student said...

I would think B and D would be fairly common, because since childhood, the pleasure from owning most things is always less (in magnitude) than the pain of being deprived of it was.

A friend gave my wife a Cuisinart, which merely takes up space in our cabinets, because it fulfills no function (as far as we can tell) that we cannot accomplish with knives, a blender, and a much smaller "mini-chop."

edutcher said...

This would be an interesting poll to run at different sites, say, reason.com and Kos (I can just imagine).

Ann Althouse said...

Wait until I do the one on relationships... modeled on this one.

Why do I think I'll need a shot of estrogen to take it?

C + F is getting a lot of votes from guys and liars.

I chose C & F.

As my sister used to say when she was about six, "I resemble that mark".

Irene said...

And the dogs are "A+". But I don't think of them as "property."

Your fur children.

john said...

D&E. I am becoming less satisfied in the stuff I have bought. Now I think I need a new computer because a 21" screen does not satisfy my urge to put more stuff in front of me.

I stole this from an Althouse commenter a while back and forgot who it was (it was re. the Ipad); but it fits me to a T. I apologise, and thank you again:

The Next Big Thing:

Millions of consumers proceeded to their nearest commercial centers this week in hopes of acquiring the latest, and therefore most desirable, personal device.

"The new device is an improvement over the old device, making it more attractive for purchase by all Americans," said Thomas Wakefield, a spokesperson for the large conglomerate that manufactures the new device. "The old device is no longer sufficient. Consumers should no longer have any use or longing for the old device."

Added Wakefield, "The new device will retail for $395."

Able to remain operational for longer periods of time and occupy a demonstrably smaller three-dimensional space, the new device is so advanced when compared to the old device that it makes the old device appear much older than it actually is. However, the new device is reportedly not so radically different as to cause confusion or unwanted anxiety among those familiar with the feel of the old device.

"Its higher price indicates to me that it is superior, and that not everyone will be able to afford it, which only makes me want to possess it more," said Tim Sturges, owner of the old device, which he obtained 18 months ago when it was still the new device. "I feel a strong urge to purchase the new device. Owning the new device will please me and improve my daily life.
"

EDH said...

I'm a pretty consistent "F", but when I do acquire stuff, I tend to then put it in any one of the first three categories (A, B or C), not exclusively just one category.

I tend to judge things by utility, productivity, satisfaction and value (quality/price). But I can be ridiculously sentimental about even everyday things that are none of those. I can appreciate aesthetic things, I know what I like after I see it, but I seek out and own almost no art.

"B" outcomes push me toward the "E" and "F" orientations.

"A" describes my personal sentimentality rather than outward pride of ownership.

reader_iam said...

B & E. Went with my gut, the first response that came to mind.

In thinking it over, this is true of me, now. What I'm finding interesting my feelings/attitude were different at different times. For example, I'd say that throughout the '90s, and possibly, though less so, for a couple of years at the start of the aughts, the choice would be A and D. And up through the 80s, it really was C and F (probably not coincidentally, I was younger, poorer and more idealistic back then).

Obviously, I'm well aware of how much we've cut back and are consolidating now--and that there's a real sense of "enough," as far as stuff goes, these days. But I had not thought of it in the terms you've laid out, much less noticed, or pondered, the change.

Some real food for thought, there. Thanks for the post.

bagoh20 said...

I aggressively talk myself out of buying things constantly. I hate having stuff around that I have no use for.

Did you ever notice that when you walk in the house your hands are full, but rarely on the way out? Stuff just sneaks in.

ricpic said...

The honest answer is of course A and D. However no beautiful person would ever give that answer, it's so terribly gauche my dear.

reader_iam said...

Huh. I wonder if I'll eventually move on to A and F, or maybe even back to C and F. New phases, or moving full circle? Huh.

***

Now, this is what I would call a thoughtworm.

; )

Bob_R said...

I'm A & D. I have a collection of left-handed guitars and basses and a lot of other music and recording equipment. I have a great time making music with them, caring for them, and repairing them. They are personal tools and special to me. So definitely A. This is obviously not a utilitarian occupation, and I put a good deal of energy into it, so D.

Ricardo said...

Is this about the new car?

Ricardo said...

Or are you getting into Buddhism ("attachment" versus "non-attachment")?

Balfegor said...

I'm A, and mostly F. Occasionally, for one thing or another, I may get a bit of D, but it's pretty rare. In general, I like the things I have, and I don't exactly thirst after novelty.

kcom said...

"I doubt those who choose C. Your own home, car, desk, gun, dog, etc is almost always more special to you than those belonging to another."

The thing is, I really didn't read A that way (or the way I read A was modified by the description of C) so it might be a case of it being vague enough to have different interpretations.

I said C but I was also was considering A. I think anything you own is more special to you, yes, because you depend on it for something (assuming it's a useful object). But here's what C says:

I have a pretty objective feeling about things, and they don't seem either better or worse when they belong to me.

The things you own have more direct impact on you and you might have a soft spot for them but that doesn't mean you see them as better or worse. By some people's standards, I have a very expensive bicycle - I paid $1200 (on sale) for it. And I really like it and consider it a good purchase that does for me what I was looking for. But in the biking world, objectively speaking, it's a low end road bike. There are many, many bikes that cost $2000 or $3000 or $4000 or much more. And they are ridden by bicyclists who aren't any better than I am, don't ride any more miles than I do, etc. Do I have unrealistic expectations of the worth of my current bike just because I own it? No. It's a lower end road bike. But do I really appreciate owning it? Yes. It does for me what I need and meets my minimum standards for how it should perform, i.e. I don't feel the imperative to curse it every time I ride it. That's enough to make me content no matter what anyone else owns or rides. The same thing is true with the 17" CRT monitor I'm currently looking at as I type this. I bought it around 2000, it performs great, is big enough where I don't have that cramped feeling and have never felt a need to replace it. It meets my needs, even though you could make the argument that it's not as good as some other new monitor (including the one in my closet that someone gave me.) But in my case, good enough is good enough. I'll buy better if I need better, but I'll keep good enough if it's good enough.

themightypuck said...

Things have very little meaning to me as unique objects. If I can replace it I won't get pissed if you break it. Theft is a bit different since it combines loss with a sense of violation or something.

roesch-voltaire said...

As I have gotten older I tend to want/need less so I rather spend more on a few good things that I use daily and save our money for travel which we can not own, but does take on special value so I marked A&F.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"C + F is getting a lot of votes from guys and liars."

Why do a poll if you're going to set it up so that you can get the outcome you want just by calling people liars?

(Not to mention that you have no way of knowing the sex of respondents.)

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"My motivation for composing this poll is that I've long been aware of having the feeling described in B, and I don't think it's a very nice feeling, but it's especially bad -- and sad -- if it's combined with D."

I highly suspect that you also do this with people (and not just things).

You need new people, but once you have them, you immediately begin to focus on their imperfections until you absolutely just can't stand the sight of them.

At which point you toss them out and begin your search for a new person to satisfy your cravings and the cycle starts again.

I also suspect that as you've grown older, the time between acquisition and disgust has shortened significantly and you're beginning to see this as a fault of your own personality (for the first time).

Are you in therapy?

Bill said...

The combo I wanted was A & B. Sometimes simultaneously.

Almost Ali said...

If you equate value with price, you're probably a liberal.

AllenS said...

I own four tractors. A man can't have too many tractors.

former law student said...

There are many, many bikes that cost $2000 or $3000 or $4000 or much more

Most manufactured goods follow the same pattern. There is cheap low end crap which is unsatisfactory and soon discarded. At the other extreme is stuff priced out of sight.

But in my experience, the price-performance curve has a knee. Below it, spending a little more produces a big improvement in performance, attractiveness, usability, etc. But above that point, you have to spend boatloads of money for even modest improvements. Thus the $3600 bike is not three times better than the $1200, but the $1200 bike can be ten times better than the $300.

Almost Ali said...

Allen S - How do you buy your tractors; new, used? If you buy new, do you negotiate the price (haggle)? How long does the typical negotiation take?

Lem said...

I'm too lazy to ruminate over all the possible permutations.

jgm said...

New "Hussein": are you really female?

wv: "perati." My next car.

Lem said...

I'll wait until the multiple choice version ;)

Almost Ali said...

former law student: - Do you negotiate price (haggle) at point-of-sale? How long does the typical bike negotiation take?

former law student said...

Almost Ali -- Are you arguing that luxury goods are more likely to be sold at a discount than middle-of-the-road or cheap goods? Otherwise I don't see the relevance of your question.

AllenS said...

Ali,

They are all used. I like to carry around 10-15 $100 bills. If someone has anything to sell, and they want $500 for it, and you consider that a good price. Offer 3 $100 bills. You'd be surprised how cash can seal a deal. Pronto.

Almost Ali said...

AllenS - A man after my own heart. You know how to buy.

I have a general rule, that if I can't turn right around and sell it for the same or higher price, I don't buy it.

Almost Ali said...

former law student said...
Are you arguing that luxury goods are more likely to be sold at a discount than middle-of-the-road or cheap goods?

No, not at all. I'm just curious how others approach a purchase.

raf said...

I'm late to this party, but I had trouble answering becausse I feel both A and B towards my stuff. It is MINE and I feel a certain loyalty toward it, but I am also more aware of its faults than I was before I owned it. I have to consciously resist being defensive about the faults of my very own stuff.

former law student said...

AA -- I have only ever bought a bike "on sale," at the specified price. From my experience dealing with chain merchandisers, getting a discount on non-sale stuff is a nightmare.

If you're dealing with an independent shop, the owner is likely to be more flexible. If the guy doesn't want to come down on price, maybe he'll throw in some accessories, like a light, or a helmet, to make the sale. In the chain store scenario, try to talk to a manager who might have the authority to cut a price to make the sale.

Donna B. said...

I am definitely a C. This comes mostly from associating with my sister who an emotionally overboard A about somethings and a B about other. She drove me nuts.

That experience and having once lost everything in a fire have led me to be attached to things only in relation to their usefulness and/or replacement cost. Yeah, I'd be pissed if someone stole my car, but not because it's that particular car.

And I'm definitely an F because the job of replacing possessions lost in that fire was horrible and I have not really enjoyed shopping since.

I'm also married to an A/D with slight hoarding tendencies, so even if I weren't already an F when I met him, I might have become one.

AST said...

Will this be on the final?

My answers would depend on what specific item we're talking about.

What I have a problem with is getting rid of stuff.

bagoh20 said...

I rarely agree with you FLS, but I totally see your "knee" insight into pricing. There is a point you reach where the item is near optimal in quality and the added cost above that is just to give elites their needed exclusivity by over-paying, which lesser humans will not do. It's also a pricing strategy to charge more as a way to distinguish your brand when little else does.

Fen said...

B & F

danielle said...

would be nice to separate the results by gender.

Fen said...

It's rational to combine B, if you're afflicted with it, with F

For me, they aren't linked.

My desire for something is diminished once I own it and the "newness" has worn off.

But I don't really covet. I grew up a spoiled rich kid (two vettes at 16 and closet full of Ralph Lauren) so maybe I pushed through the materialistic phase most enounter as adults.

My wife has to force me to buy new clothes, etc.

danielle said...

I'm an A, always.

But in that second tier, I can be any of those ... just depends on what's going on with me. For instance, I'm currently an E (because I'm about to move); but I'm often a D, especially as it relates to shoes .. and probably as it relates to clothes too. But as it relates to stuff in my apt, I'm an F.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It depends on what KIND of things you are talking about.

Computers, cars, basic furniture easily replaceable things that have function but no sentimental or emotional value. Who cares. Buy the most efficient item for the use when technology. If the thing is for your house like furniture etc buy what looks good and is of good quality so you don't have to buy it again.

Clothing. Meh. Buy what I need for work or for casual and buy good quality but don't really care much about it. I buy my work shoes/pumps once a year and get the same thing every time. Hush Puppy 1 1/2 heels in 5 basic colors. It takes me 15 minutes to buy work shoes. On the other hand....special outfits and sexy shoes. Different story.

Other THINGS....that have sentimental value or that are collectible items or antiques. Those fall into a totally different emotional category.

Things like my mother's jewelry. My grandmother's crystal glassware. The antique high chair that my parents bought for my daughter to sit in. Great great great grandmother's Seth Thomas Mantle Clock.

Those thing are emotional and not replaceable.

I collect art deco pottery, fiestaware, bauer, hull, some glassware and certain types of jewelry. When I find a piece to add to the collection.....it is "oh frabjous day callooh callay". I can't get enough of those "things" and it is really hot if I get a bargain.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

BTW: C and F for me for most everything.

except the special stuff...which is so very very special that you all should be jealous.

bagoh20 said...

What is it about women and their shoes. I don't know of any similar thing with men. Maybe tools, but new tools are useful even when you have other tools. Shoes? 4 pair should cover any situation.

Eric said...

C and E for me. Of course you can't get through life without any possessions, but for me "things" are a burden. Things don't make me happy - my relationships with other people are what make me happy.

knox said...

I think I can view things objectively. But we were broke in our 20s, and we still have some relics of hard times: crappy furniture, etc. It's pretty hard not to want new stuff--that means an awful lot of resisting. And we don't do credit cards any more, so it's all about saving.

In the end, I have to say it's good to have to wait for things. I definitely *do* value the big investments that we have had to work and save for than others. Even if it's just home improvement rather than an actual object.

Almost Ali said...

former law student said...
I have only ever bought a bike "on sale," at the specified price.

Buying "on sale" is certainly better than paying retail.

A general observation: If the average person put 1/10th the thought into their purchases as they do their work, they'd save a ton of money over a lifetime.

The problem is that the average person (American) doesn't like to haggle. Ironically, the actual "haggle" only takes a minute, often less. As AllenS suggested, the key to a successful negotiation is the "buyer's" price-point, and making the offer.

Kirk Parker said...

Someone said,

"I feel differently about different articles of property. My emotions about our house and my yarn, for example, are very different from my emotions about my clothing."

She's trying to distinguish between different kinds of thing, but in my case it's different individual items. Those few things that are exceptionally useful or wonderful are in category A. I'd put my '94 Suburban, Pentax KX, Springfield M1A1, and for the most recent and trivial example, my little Tascam stereo digital recorder. But the same kind of item done poorly (e.g. my late and very unlamented Ford Fairmont) gets a B.

Oh, and of course lots and lots of prosaic stuff just fits into category C: it's a tool and/or useful, more or less, but no special preciousness attaches to it.

Doesn't everyone do this to some extent?

AllenS,

LOL! On the other hand, it's very easy for a man to have too few (like my current zero.)

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

This has been such a profoundly interesting thread for/to me.

***

It's never occurred to me that profoundly meaningful, personal things--for just one example, such as the mugs my late mom's mother made for my dad's late mother and late father when my dad and late mom got engaged, against certain odds, back in the '50s--are material things, possession-wise. (Another example would be postcards between my late paternal great-grandmother and her family in Norway, after she--oh, horrors!--eloped with my lower-class, English, seafaring late paternal great-grandfather well over a century ago, now.)

I've got more than my share of such things, and thank God for them. Were I to take those things into account with regard to this poll, I'd be among the most profound and emphatic "A's" possible.

Can't imagine (and, obviously, didn't imagine, not even on a thought level, much less gut) that these things were included in what this Althouse poll/post was about.

God, I'm constantly missing things these days. I mean, I just don't get stuff here, anymore.

: (

Omaha1 said...

I was going to say C & F but then I realized that there are several things that I own, which if they were damaged or lost, would make me feel very sad to have to replace. So I changed to A & F.

I used to spend a lot of time & effort on acquiring more things, but the older I get the more care I take in that area of my life. It takes me a very long time to decide whether to make a major purchase, and I often find that upon lengthy reflection I am satisfied with what I already have, as long as it is still working OK. Part of this may be due to the ever-changing and "improving" models and styles of consumer goods. I have discovered the look and feel of things I like and I don't want to have something different if I don't have to.

One odd thing that influenced me was Glenn Reynolds' posts on quality cookware. He is a great salesman. I love to cook and had gotten by with very cheap pots & pans for several years. It was his blog that convinced me to buy new pots & pans. I did not spend hundreds of dollars, I only got a medium quality stainless set from Sam's club that a friend recommended. And I do love them now. Thanks Glenn!

wv: likednoi - liked, no I loved them

Omaha1 said...

Now that I have read everyone else's comments, it appears that there are two categories of possessions for most people. There are things that enhance your well-being and/or have an emotional value, like your home (if you have had it for a long time), special clothing, art, and heirlooms; and items that serve a mainly utilitarian purpose such as work clothes, tools and appliances. Some items can be in a different category for different people, such as cars. Some people view a car as a status symbol, some view it strictly as transportation, and others see it as a combination of these. These items would vary depending on your social milieu - for highly technical people, it might be computers or other gadgets, for women, clothing and jewelry, for men, tools and the like.

I think that the "combination" items would give a clearer picture of a person's general outlook on material possessions. For example, someone who really wanted to replace a practical and functional car for something more stylish feel that possessions are important to their self-image. Someone who is content to drive their car "until the wheels fall off", because it is paid for, attaches less significance to its role as a signal to others of wealth and class.

wv: ovessell - anagram for loveless

Bob_R said...

Anyone with four tractors who puts down C and F is lying (probably to himself).

k said...

I said C and D. It is fun to buy new things. However, we just moved for the 3rd time in the past 12 months, shedding various items each time. I still want more. But somehow at the same time, moving makes it clear it is just stuff to be carried around all the time. If I lost it all, I'd be primarily worried about having enough money to get all new stuff, not the stuff itself. It would be fun to start over with enough cash.

AllenS said...

Bob,

I have a 30' x 70' pole barn. It's not big enough. And I ain't lieing.

AllenS said...

I could have also picked A. In 1968, I bought a 1966 Austin Healey 3000. I restored it a couple of years ago. B and D are also true.

kcom said...

"It's never occurred to me that profoundly meaningful, personal things--for just one example, such as the mugs my late mom's mother made for my dad's late mother and late father when my dad and late mom got engaged, against certain odds, back in the '50s--are material things, possession-wise.

I've got more than my share of such things, and thank God for them. Were I to take those things into account with regard to this poll, I'd be among the most profound and emphatic "A's" possible.

Can't imagine (and, obviously, didn't imagine, not even on a thought level, much less gut) that these things were included in what this Althouse poll/post was about."


I don't think they were. Some people might have answered that way, but if you read the question it's not about that sort of thing.

Look at Option B:

When I own something, I'm more aware of its imperfections and problems, and I tend to feel that it's worse than it seemed before I owned it or in comparison to similar things that I don't own.

She's obviously talking about commodity items (like, say, an iPad) and not one-of-a-kind personal items with purely sentimental value. You can't compare your current feelings about your mugs to your feelings about them before you owned them. It's a meaningless concept. And I seriously doubt you're going to find fault with them now that you do own them (what, the handles are too small?).

Sure, there's a gray area with some items (a highly customized car, perhaps) but in general, I think she's asking about the general nature of acquisitiveness and some people's "I've got to have that!" reaction to the next, newest thing. Are you an acquirer or not and when you do acquire stuff does it generally provide the hoped for psychological satisfaction or does it disappoint?

kcom said...

On a completely different topic, sort of, as I was rereading the first three options I saw that they could also apply to politics. Now that we've bought and own Barack Obama as president, I'm wondering how certain people would answer the first section:

A. When I own something, it takes on special value and feels more precious to me than it did before I owned it...

B. When I own something, I'm more aware of its imperfections and problems, and I tend to feel that it's worse than it seemed before I owned it...

C. I have a pretty objective feeling about things, and they don't seem either better or worse when they belong to me.

What do you think?

Bob_R said...

AllenS - I grew up on a farm and know the syndrome. You can never have too many tools. Of course, I've known farmers who have gone bankrupt precisely because they've told themselves that.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This thread reminds me of the classic George Carlin routine about STUFF

My stuff is better than your crap. :-P

Damon said...

FLS - Your price curve only works from a very limited perspective.

If, and it's a big if, your only purpose for purchasing an item it its actualy utility the you sometimes have a point.

Your bike example does not work for the professional cyclist. A $10,000 bike is 100x's more valuable than one worth $1,200. The decreased drag and weight are the difference between being competitive and sitting at home and watching the race on TV.

In addition, people do not just purchase for utility. People purchase to impress, make themselves feel superior, appreciate craftsmanship.

A handmade desk by a renowned craftsman may not have any more utility than one from Ikea, but every time you look at it you can appreciate it.

Your price curve is the reason people are unhappy with liberals. I am fine with your feelings on the matter, but I do not want you foisting your price curve with it underlying assumptions on me. And before you are so quick to retort that you aren't foisting it on me think long and hard, because that is a argument you will certainly lose.

former law student said...

Your bike example does not work for the professional cyclist.

The professor was not polling professional cyclists, but her readers. Professionals need professional-grade equipment, mut regular jamokes do not. I laugh at homeowners who install, say, Wolf stoves. First of all, Wolf stoves were not designed to be installed in homes, so they had to produce special home versions of the Wolf stove. Second, the flow of various orders through a restaurant kitchen is completely unlike how people cook for their families. High heat cooking allows restaurants to process a variety of orders as quickly as possible -- seldom the way Mom cooked for us.

But thanks for letting me know that conservatives are shallow materialists who believe that what they own impresses other people, rather than what they do, or the strength of their characters.

Damon said...

"But thanks for letting me know that conservatives are shallow materialists who believe that what they own impresses other people, rather than what they do, or the strength of their characters."

No - thanks for showing us that liberals think they know what is best for us - and can also judge us while they are at it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wolf stoves. First of all, Wolf stoves were not designed to be installed in homes, so they had to produce special home versions of the Wolf stove. Second, the flow of various orders through a restaurant kitchen is completely unlike how people cook for their families. High heat cooking allows restaurants to process a variety of orders as quickly as possible -- seldom the way Mom cooked for us.

Speak for yourself.

I have a professional (not home) version Wolf range in my kitchen. It is easy to install if you use metal shielding at the sides and back of the stove.

4 burners and a griddle that can be changed out for another 2 burners. Big oven that holds the heat better than any stove I've ever cooked on. The only thing missing is that it doesn't have the broiler installed.

I LOVE LOVE this stove.

I don't know what YOUR mom cooked like, but I wouldn't cook on anything else.

Just because that tool isn't part of your lifestyle/needs doesn't mean that it isn't perfect for someone else.

PatCA said...

I had a car accident once. The car was totaled; I was fine. It was towed to a yard. I went there a week later to sign off on it and send it to the salvage. When I saw it, listing to the right on two shredded tires, punched and beaten, alone on the tarmac, I choked up a little. I felt like I was losing someone.

I think more people would choose A if it weren't socially unacceptable to admit of a connection with things. Aristotle would probably agree that my car was part of the animus mundi as much as I am or my cat is. I wonder why we resist that notion.