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The Joyless Economy: The Psychology of Human Satisfaction

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  11 reviews
When this classic work was first published in 1976, its central tenet--more is not necessarily better--placed it in direct conflict with mainstream thought in economics. Within a few years, however, this apparently paradoxical claim was gaining wide acceptance. Scitovsky's ground-breaking book was the first to apply theories of behaviorist psychology to questions of consum ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 26th 1992 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1976)
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Henry Barry
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
This was a landmark book in my life that changed the way I think about pretty much everything. Scitovsky pretty much destroys the classic economic models of utility and consumer satisfaction, replacing them with a more nuanced model of stimulation. This has implications for everything, which he outlines in the book. Some questions that he answers: What is culture and why is it important? What does it mean to be cultured? Why do Americans seem to work so much harder than Europeans, and is that go ...more
Apr 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I went to the BYU bookstore one time for a specific book, and while I was walking up and down the aisles trying to find it, this one caught my eye and I bought it. I love this book, I love the idea behind this book. Some of his ideas: "pleasure is the fleeting state that occurs in the transition from discomfort to comfort;" we have more free time and money than things we can effectively spend it on; in other words, more is not necessarily better. He uses this to explain introverts vs extroverts, ...more
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it

His book brings in psychology and economics to better understand how people behave. While economics focuses on maximizing utility, Tibor puts a bit more nuance there. His basic point is that buying more and more is wasteful for two reasons: 1) We crowd out experiences and effort when we buy things, and the experience and effort lost may make us more happy that what we bought and 2) Mass production makes a lot of what we buy decent quality, but not great, and therefore often a waste or just not v
Keith Weaver
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The title “The Joyless Economy” describes pretty much exactly the situation one would deduce from its words. For those who live in wealthy and advanced societies, where their economies are so diverse and productive that they are able to produce virtually anything one can imagine, why do so many people feel joyless? The book digs into this in great detail, as can be seen from the sub-headings in just a few chapters.

Chapter 3, for example, considers

The Pursuit of Novelty

Physical Stimulation
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
I have a new perspective about what I thought unnecessary, eg:

Relative redundancy of English language is estimated 50% higher. In other words, the subjective information flow contained in an English text is around 2.3 bits per letter.

In fact redundancy is sometimes can come in handy when there’s an imperfect information transmission.

This is just one example that can be found. I like the narrative since the example given is most likely day to day experience with additional interesting facts.
May 28, 2018 marked it as to-keep-reference
Shelves: felicidad
...boredom and violence could be pervasive in an opulent country like the US, and attempted to find reasons for this apparently paradoxical phenomenon. By drawing from psychology research, he argued that one fundamental biological need is the need for stimulation. Unfortunately, opulence distracts people’s choice towards material comfort, which tends to produce boredom. Violence would appear as an abnormal reaction from the need for stimulation.

Capabilities and Happiness Pág.3

A possible ‘‘relat
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book starts out with interesting theories on human behavior but then turns into a personal diatribe about the American way of life as compared to the European wife of life. It soon takes on a Pro-European stance including a direct attack on any legislation that would impair liberties under any kind of moral standard. There is clearly a worldview masked within a look at human psychology.

I started this book with high expectations at it seemed to be an early framework for the application of b
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Basically our economy is set up to make us depressed. Capitalism has an incentive not to sell us the goods we want, but the goods it wants to sell, hence, advertising. This was the book that got economists to first start thinking about happiness. It is a sort of reinvention of economics looking through the prism of why people actually spend money. Sort of a meta-step between traditional economics and behavioral. It was poorly received at the time, apparently, but now it reads like common sense. ...more
Dec 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book in which Scitovsky draws on his knowledge of economics, the arts, and psychology in the form of Berlyne's experimental aesthetics. He has many provocative and original insights. His perspective remains current, especially insofar as they apply to achieving satisfaction through the arts, enjoying novelty, consumerism, resource depletion and the imperative to discover a sustainable way of life.
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
An economist in the 1970s who had the audacity to view economic behavior through the lens of behavioral psychology.

In recent years, such cross-pollination between disciplines regularly finds itself reflected in Economics Nobel Prizes; back then, it was a jarring novelty for his fellow economists. A pioneering work.
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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