Writing an essay on affluenza and the psychology behind it requires some understanding of what the term really means. affluenza is a combination of the words influenza and affluence and it is the condition where an individual’s wealth affects his or her mental state as well as one’s decision making abilities. This generally means that individuals suffering from affluenza have developed an unhealthy relationship with wealth.
This psychological condition which is still being studied by psychologists has had little coverage by the mainstream media and this makes writing about it an important task. Therefore, if you have been assigned to writing an essay on social psychology and affluenza, this article will provide you with some facts to get you started on comparing and contrasting the social effects of affluenza in your writing project.
- Affluenza creates a feeling of worthlessness. The constant need to pursue wealth or continuously consume goods can be harmful to one’s health. Psychologists believe that affluenza is a condition that leaves its sufferers feelings unhappy and worthless. Studies show that regardless of the amount of money accumulated, an affluenza patient will still feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied with the life he or she lives.
- Affluenza is more prevalent in western countries. A study by British psychologist James Oliver, showed that affluent individuals residing in the west were more likely to suffer from affluenza than individuals in other parts of the world. Westerners are three times more likely to place high values on money, social status and physical appearance than their Asian or African counterparts. James Oliver asserted in his research that the western world places wants over needs and this creates an environment where affluenza thrives.
- The American psychiatric association contests affluenza. Affluenza as a psychiatric condition is still being contested in some parts of the world. The American Psychiatric association has refused to list it as a psychological illness citing the lack of conclusive evidence supporting affluenza. A study conducted by Robert Freidmann, of Georgia University casts doubts on whether westerners really do have a consumerism problem and if individuals can suffer from affluenza.
- Affluenza is aided by mainstream media. Proponents of affluenza and other social psychologists believe that our attitude and psyche can be manipulated by the media. Affluenza has been noted to be a by-product of implicit attitudes—attitudes humans acquire unconsciously but influences our decision making process. These implicit attitudes are gained through consistently consuming entertainment programs that focus on wealth and affluence.
- Affluenza is contagious. Psychologists who have studied the effects of affluenza in humans and how people in a sufferers circle relate to it, found affluenza to be mildly contagious. A 2010 study on social interaction discovered that the attitudes of people are affected by the circle of friends or individuals they constantly interact with. It has been confirmed that an individual in constant communication with someone with no self-control will also end up exhibiting similar traits.
- Affluenza can be successfully treated. Studies lead by social rehabilitation centres have shown that the condition of affluenza can be treated or contained in its sufferers. Psychologists believe that teaching patients that there is more to life than wealth and providing wholesome entertainment/relaxation outlets can help individuals deal with the condition. Achieving a good work-life balance has also been noted as one of the important factors in treating affluenza in adults.
- Affluenza reduces the ability to feel empathy. A research published in the Psychological Science Journal had shown that more affluent people find it more difficult to read facial expressions than the less wealthy. It went on to say that lack of compassion and empathy was more prevalent in affluent people who are mostly out of touch with reality. While lower income earners who depend on one another on a daily basis tend to exhibit a high level of emotional intelligence than the wealthy. This observation was attributed to affluenza and its effects on human thought process.
- Affluenza clouds moral judgement. A UC Berkeley study found that in an affluent community in San Francisco, drivers of luxury vehicles were more likely to break traffic laws, cut other drivers off and negate the zebra crossing rule. The study concluded that even though an individual suffering from affluenza knows right from wrong, the condition pushes him or her to cut corners whenever it is possible or convenient to do so.
- Affluenza has been linked with addiction. Studies have shown that affluenza can be a triggering factor leading to substance abuse. This study which takes into consideration the behavioural patterns of high school students had found that students from wealthy homes tend to suffer from affluenza, internalize problems and turn to substance abuse to cope with these problems. The study also took into consideration the behavioural patterns of adults and it had discovered that the wealthier class outdrinks the less financially successful by approximately 27%.
- Affluenza can lead to depression. The pursuit for more wealth and the belief that purchase can make one happy has been shown to be a prime trigger for depression. Statistics have shown that affluenza makes individuals develop behavioural addictions which include binging, developing an unhealthy need for money and exhibiting compulsive behaviours. This can lead to a change in the brain chemistry which supports irrational mood swings and anxiety. The negative change in brain chemistry can also push the victim of affluenza into deep exhaustion as well as depression.
These 10 facts on social psychology and affluenza cover most of the basics you would need to write a compare and contrast essay on today’s subject matter. It is important to also note that there are more materials provided to help you with writing your essay. These materials include an article consisting of 20 social psychology essay topics on affluenza while the last article in the series will provide directions on how to strike a good compare and contrast essay on social psychology and affluenza for your readers. So endeavor to stay tuned.
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Carolyn, G. (2014). How Money Changes the Way We Think and Behave.
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Carolyn, G. (2013). The Psychology of Materialism, and Why Its Making You Unhappy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/15/psychology-materialism_n_4425982.html
Clive, H. (2010). Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough.