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Towards a Theory of Minimalism and Wellbeing

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Abstract and Figures

Minimalism is an increasingly popular low-consumption lifestyle whereby people deliberately live with fewer possessions. Proponents of minimalism claim the lifestyle offers a myriad of wellbeing benefits, including happiness, life satisfaction, meaning, and improved personal relationships, however, to date there has been no scientific study examining these claims. The current study aims to take a step towards rectifying this, by exploring the experiences of people living a minimalistic lifestyle. Ten people who identify as minimalists participated in semi-structured interviews to discuss their experience of minimalism and wellbeing. The data was collected and analysed using grounded theory methods. All participants reported that minimalism provided various wellbeing benefits. Five key themes were identified in the study: autonomy, competence, mental space, awareness, and positive emotions. Findings align with previous research examining voluntary simplicity, pro-ecological behaviours, and materialism, and offer new insights into the benefits of low-consumption lifestyles. The results have multidisciplinary implications, from positive psychology to education, business, marketing, economics, conservation and sustainability, with the potential to impact future research, policy, and practice.
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Towards a Theory of Minimalism and Wellbeing
Kasey Lloyd
&William Pennington
Accepted: 30 January 2020
#Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
Minimalism is an increasingly popular low-consumption lifestyle whereby people
deliberately live with fewer possessions. Proponents of minimalism claim the lifestyle
offers a myriad of wellbeing benefits, including happiness, life satisfaction, meaning,
and improved personal relationships, however, to date there has been no scientific study
examining these claims. The current study aims to take a step towards rectifying this,
by exploring the experiences of people living a minimalistic lifestyle. Ten people who
identify as minimalists participated in semi-structured interviews to discuss their
experience of minimalism and wellbeing. The data was collected and analysed using
grounded theory methods. All participants reported that minimalism provided various
wellbeing benefits. Five key themes were identified in the study: autonomy, compe-
tence, mental space, awareness, and positive emotions. Findings align with previous
research examining voluntary simplicity, pro-ecological behaviours, and materialism,
and offer new insights into the benefits of low-consumption lifestyles. The results have
multidisciplinary implications, from positive psychology to education, business, mar-
keting, economics, conservation and sustainability, with the potential to impact future
research, policy, and practice.
Keywords Minimalism .Wellbeing .Low-consumption lifestyle .Vo l u n t a r y s i m p l i c i t y .
Self-determination theory
Consumerism and materialistic values have potentially negative repercussions for
individuals and for society (Kasser 2002). Studies have shown a connection between
materialism and a lack of concern about the environment (Hurst et al. 2013), higher
financial debt (Gardarsdóttir and Dittmar 2012), and most pertinent to this study, lower
levels of personal wellbeing (Dittmar et al. 2014). Low-consumption lifestyles have
surged in popularity over the past decade, as people attempt to compensate for the
above. One such lifestyle is minimalism, which is characterised by anti-consumerist
*Kasey Lloyd
University of East London, London, UK
International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology (2020) 5:121136
/Published online: 16 February 2020
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Sebagai respon, beberapa tahun terakhir telah muncul suatu gaya hidup alternatif yang disebut sebagai minimalisme (Lloyd & Pennington, 2020). Gaya hidup tersebut segera mendapatkan momentum dan menjadi tren di banyak tempat. ...
... Pertama, minimalisme memperkuat otonomi pada diri individu (Lloyd & Pennington, 2020). Menjadi minimalis memberi sensasi 'membebaskan' diri dari tekanan sosial dan komersial untuk membeli segala sesuatu. ...
... Bahwa pola hidup minimalis akan menghasilkan kesehatan mental yang signifikan ketimbang mereka yang tidak menjalani hidup minimalis. Terakhir, dan yang paling penting adalah bahwa hal ini didukung oleh cukup banyak penelitian empiris yang diproduksi oleh berbagai peneliti di berbagai belahan dunia dalam satu dekade terakhir (Hook et al., 2021;Lloyd & Pennington, 2020). ...
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Materialist lifestyle produces consumptive behavior which ultimately has a broad impact on a person. The most dangerous impact is on mental health where individuals are more susceptible to depression when they do not feel they have enough. Responding to this condition, modern western society has created minimalist lifestyle. This lifestyle is characterized by a deliberate restriction of ownership of things. As for Islam, there is the concept of zuhud which means turning a Muslim away from all worldly things. Although by naked eye, minimalist behavior has similarities with zuhud, there are fundamental differences between the two. The purpose of this study was to identify the differences between minimalism and zuhud and their effect on mental health. Using the literature review method, this study reveals that zuhud guarantees a more stable and authentic mental health, especially for Muslims. The greater positive influence is caused by the reference point of the performer of zuhud in the hereafter rather than the world, and zuhud having an integrative-interconnective relationship with other rites in Islam. Keywords: islamic psychology, mental health, minimalism, zuhud
... However, Lloyd and Pennington [21] is contradicted point of view. The objective of the study is examining the experiences of people living a minimalistic lifestyle. ...
... As complex and non-liquid assets is difficult to convert into cash and it might take time to sell and difficult to convert into cash. Hence, stress and worrying about their life will increase the negative emotions and affect well-being [21]. ...
... The minimalist lifestyle is known as an alternative lifestyle that has recently been popularly recognized by many people who offer a unique approach to achieving happiness. Based on a research conducted by Dopierala, individuals who follow a minimalist lifestyle try to gain happiness by reducing their attentions from the materialist things and changing them to other aspects of life [7], such as spending more time with family, playing social media, or get rid of their possessions, so their times can be used optimally [8]. ...
... In addition to the presence of positive emotions, the minimalist lifestyle's subjects also experience full involvement in the activities as implied in how they share their emotions naturally and can enjoy the simple moments in life. These findings are in line with previous researches, such as in a research conducted by Lloyd & Pennington, in which the subjects of the minimalist lifestyle get many benefits for their lives after adopting this lifestyle [7]. ...
... A minimalist lifestyle illustrates the "less is more" principle by focusing on "reducing consumption and lessening, limiting and maintaining the number of possessions owned to a bare minimum" [3]. The origins of the minimalist phenomenon are traced in Asia, but its pervasiveness became global after the 2008 financial crisis, with significant appeal in Western societies (US, Europe) as a new mode of consumption [4] or a low-consumption lifestyle [5]. Empirical research examining what determines people to embrace minimalism provides a multi-level view [6]. ...
... The attitude towards minimalism (ATT), thus, the favorable or unfavorable evaluation of minimalism, is shaped by the role played by consumption and possession in one's life. If needs such as autonomy and competence are mainly satisfied through material consumption, minimalism will probably not be perceived favorably [5], at least not from an emotional point of view [44]. In a similar vein, the cognitive dimension of attitudes, determined in this case by the information available about the consequences associated with minimalism, has an equally relevant role in predicting behavioral intention. ...
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Minimalism is a promising approach that supports consumers' shift towards sustainable behaviors , with the perks of increasing emotional well-being. To understand which socio-psychological factors and intrinsic values determine the adoption of a minimalist lifestyle, we employ an extended framework of the theory of planned behavior to investigate the drivers behind the adoption intention. We test, through a partial least squares path modelling analysis, a structural model that depicts: (i) the influences of value orientations (altruistic, bioshperic, and egoistic) on attitudes; and (ii) the influence of attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control on intention. The results indicate positive effects for all examined relationships, with effect sizes highlighting that attitudes and altruistic values should be prioritized in practical interventions that support a sustainable behavior. Surprisingly, we find a positive effect also for egoistic values, suggestive of the need for future cross-cultural research on minimalism and sustainability in Central and Eastern Europe.
... Minimalism includes conscious and critical consumption [73] [74] [75] [76]. Given that sustainable consumption can take several forms, it is possible to tie it to this reduction strategy. ...
... The potential of minimalism as a way of life and its high standards are pushing manufacturers toward more environmentally friendly production methods. Conversely, research suggests a link between materialism and a lack of interest in environmental issues [76] [77]. The majority of cited research link minimalism to particular characteristics, advantages, or values. ...
Full-text available
In a novel way, modern architecture has a great influence and impact on present-day contemporary architecture. Since the late 1980s, 'minimalism in architecture has been taken into consideration. Less is more is emphasized, which adheres to the philosophy of filling the space with the necessary items and clearing unneeded clutter to allow room for significant materials and objects. Minimalism exudes calm with simple shapes and clear lines, a neutral color scheme, and plain textures. Minimalism is about eliminating life's excesses. We can find freedom, contentment, and the ability to concentrate on what matters most. Whether it was during the sustainable era or in the twenty-first century, minimalism is adopting the conventional "less is more" way of life. In addition to displaying a wide range of hues, architecture is a form of art. Iranian architecture embodies historical grandeur and devotion, a commitment to religious education, and a rejection of materialism. It is a product of Islamic civilization. However, recycling well-known architectural features like minarets, courtyards, and mashrabiya frequently run afoul of modern trends in architecture, which are not necessarily opposed to the fundamentals of Islamic architecture. Minimalism is regarded as a fundamental resource and an alternative to the present standard aesthetic. In order to draw designers with sustainable goals' attention to the relationships between minimalism and sustainability, the following questions are briefly addressed in this paper. How does minimalist design work? What does minimalist design entail? Is the minimalist style the best style for environmentally friendly architecture? This paper tries to attempt to examine a minimalist aesthetic for sustainable building and design. This paper discusses a comprehensive overview and analysis of minimalism and its guiding principles in architecture. It also continues by outlining the features and minimalistic foundations of Islamic architecture.
... Individuals can define their beliefs and match their activities following minimalism. Consequently, individuals will participate in more environmentally conscious behaviors and consume more sustainable and ethical products (Lloyd and Pennington, 2020). Zalewska and Cobel-Tokarska (2016) suggested that many consumers consider minimalism ethical consumption as opposed to merely a rejection or elimination of belongings. ...
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In the 1987 film 'Wall Street', apart from telling the world that "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.", Gordon Gekko, portrayed by Michael Douglas, notably remarked, "I create nothing. I own." As a result, the last part of the millennium was given to excess and the never-ending pursuit of wealth and material possessions. However, recent years have seen an alternate mindset take shape. From the 'KonMari' method to Dorothy Breininger's 'five-point scale', we are now being urged to discard, declutter, and refrain from purchasing. But there are questions about why such a 'minimalist' lifestyle resonates with so many consumers worldwide. Building upon self-determination theory, the objective of the current research is to reveal the motivational goal (what), intrinsic (why) and extrinsic (when) motives that underlie minimalistic consumption. Our study examines the relationship between minimalism and perceived transcendence, along with the mediating and moderating roles of moral identity and descriptive norms, respectively. Findings from a cross-sectional sample of 529 shoppers show that minimalistic value enables consumers to fulfill their aspiration for transcendence, and that moral identity and descriptive norms explain why and when, respectively, consumers are motivated to reach this aspiration. Our study signifies the importance of cultivating the value of minimalism that helps navigate human well-being since its development provides us with a better understanding of our self-awareness as a membership in a universal unity of being, thereby expanding moral identity from self to all. We also provide theoretical and practical implications for consumers, marketers, and policymakers and shed light on further research in this emerging research domain. "It is a preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly"-Bertrand Russell.
... Consequently, wherever the field is to be understood in terms of meaning, identity and their manifestation in action, research methods derived from grounded theory might be more adequate than approaches trying to find "objective" evidence. Grounded theory has indeed been explicitly employed in studies oriented towards a sociological understanding rather than marketing practice (Goulding et al., 2005;O zçag lar-Toulouse, 2009;Walther and Sandlin, 2013;Nazarian et al., 2019;Lloyd and Pennington, 2020;Sandikci, 2020). ...
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The phenomena of voluntary simplicity and anti-consumption gain increasing awareness in the light of post-CoV debates on climate change and degrowth. Yet, the field lacks clear definitions and categorizations that make the vast amount of research hard to abstract for academic teaching purposes. This paper aims to bypass definitional shortcomings by introducing a meta-theoretical framework based on the three classic paradigms of sociology. Applying this framework shows that (1) the functionalist perspective provides a theoretical basis for presenting the phenomena as evolutionary adaptions to the need for sustainability or as gradual deviances from mainstream consumerism on a macro level. In contrast, (2) interactionism and phenomenology as the main theoretical and methodological source of sociological research in the field highlight the aspects of personal motivation for consuming less and the subsequent ramifications for individual wellbeing on the micro level. Finally, (3) the disruptive potential of consumer resistance associated with voluntary simplicity and anti-consumption can be theoretically visualized through the lens of conflict theory and postmodern perspectives.
Mit (Lust-)Erlebnissen im Onlineshopping geht auch Frustrationspotenzial in der selbstverantwortlichen Auswahl aus einem „Angebot im Überfluss“ einher. Eine Möglichkeit, Konsument:innen von diesem Auswahlproblem zu entlasten, wird unter dem Schlagwort Curated Shopping diskutiert, einer digi- talen Form persönlicher Beratung. Gerahmt wird dieses Beratungsangebot durch neue Erlebnisversprechungen, aber auch durch neue (digitalisierte) Abstimmungsprobleme.
Aklı ve duygularıyla diğer varlıklardan ayrılan insanın ihtiyaçları arasında mutluluk, huzur ve hayatın anlamı gibi soyut şeyler mevcuttur. Gelişen teknoloji ve değişen yaşam koşullarının etkisiyle uzun zamandır statü ve mutluluğun fazla eşya ve maddiyat ile alakalı olduğu görüşü insanlar arasında yayılmakta ve yayın organlarıyla bu fikir lanse edilmektedir. Son dönemde ise mutluluğun ve hayatın anlamının eşya biriktirmekle değil, sade bir yaşamla elde edileceğini iddia eden minimalizm akımı popüler hale gelmektedir. Bununla birlikte, dinî öğretilere bakıldığında eşyaya yönelik tavır hususunda minimalizmle benzerlik olduğu görülmektedir. Bu bağlamda, minimalizm ile dinî hayat arasındaki ilişki çalışmanın konusunu teşkil etmektedir. Gerçekleştirilen çalışmada yöntem olarak nitel araştırma yöntemi seçilmiştir. Araştırmanın deseni ise nitel yöntem desenlerinden olan durum çalışması desenidir. Araştırmanın verilerinin elde edilmesinde nitel araştırma yöntemi veri toplama tekniklerinden olan doküman analizi tekniği kullanılmıştır. Yapılan araştırma sonucunda minimalist yaşam tarzı ile dinî hayat arasında gerek uygulanma şekilleri gerekse nihâi etkileri bakımından birçok ortak noktanın mevcut olduğu görülmüştür.
The dominance of minimalism as a lifestyle among individuals and its influence on sustainable consumption has increased significantly; still, the concept within academic literature is conjecture in nature and exploratory to date. Also, a concrete definition of the concept and empirical evidence is lacking in academic literature and hence needs to be systemically established. In this context, minimalism has been proposed as a deliberate paradigm shift in consumer behavior grounded on the sustainable lifestyle principle. The data were collected using a highly structured questionnaire from 436 consumers and analyzed using process macros analysis techniques. The study indicates that minimalism is a sustainable lifestyle choice and helps people in achieving consumer well-being and life satisfaction focus on what matters the most in life and where to devote their energies. As a result, people with greater life satisfaction and consumer well-being are likely to experience more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions, eventually leading to an overall state of positive emotional well-being. Moreover, minimalists with high control over their consumption desire further strengthen this relationship. This research deepens the understanding of minimalism in an Asian context by opening a future research avenue and exploring the additional contributions minimalism can make. Moreover this study offers a clear rationale to understand why it is valuable for customers to incorporate minimalism into their lifestyles, which has the potential to motivate the manufacturer to seek more significant production modes which accord with the minimalistic lifestyle.
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“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” recalls Marie Kondo's 2014 influential book of the same name, from which we took our inspiration. The panelists discussed how "tidying up" parts of their collections, while in some ways a daunting process, is nevertheless a worthwhile and important endeavor for libraries. Each panelist included a summary of what part of the collection needed tidying, how they undertook the process, and what were the results of the process. The parts of the library collection considered in this presentation specifically were periodical subscriptions, reference works, and standing orders for book series. [1] Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2014).
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Early adversity has profound long-term consequences for child development across domains. The effects of early adversity on structural and functional brain development were shown for infants under 12 months of life. However, the causal mechanisms of these effects remain relatively unexplored. Using a visual habituation task we investigated whether chaotic home environment may affect processing speed in 5.5 month-old infants (n = 71). We found detrimental effects of chaos on processing speed for complex but not for simple visual stimuli. No effects of socio-economic status on infant processing speed were found although the sample was predominantly middle class. Our results indicate that chaotic early environment may adversely affect processing speed in early infancy, but only when greater cognitive resources need to be deployed. The study highlights an attractive avenue for research on the mechanisms linking home environment with the development of attention control.
Z perspektywy historii Zachodu kontrkulturowy ruch hipisowski można potraktować jako kolejną ekspresję pojawiającej się co pewien czas tendencji kulturowej, w której odradza się pragnienie uwolnienia od posiadania rzeczy, zakwestionowanie wartości charakterystycznych dla społeczeństwa wysokiej konsumpcji, powrót do ideału życia prostego. Celem artykułu jest analiza współczesnego zjawiska, określanego mianem minimalizmu, w wielu punktach nawiązującego do kontrkulturowych postulatów, choć niebędącego prostą kontynuacją hipisowskiej kontestacji. Zjawisko to, dla którego opisu najbardziej adekwatnym terminem wydaje się termin „styl życia”, wiąże się przede wszystkim z blogosferą, a do najbardziej popularnych minimalistów należą: Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, Joshua Fields Millburn czy Ryan Nicodemus. Choć minimalizm jest postrzegany przede wszystkim jako styl życia, w którym ludzie starają się uwolnić od nadmiaru rzeczy, w artykule zjawisko to zostanie potraktowane jako forma antykonsumpcjonistycznej duchowości, której źródeł należy poszukiwać w zachodniej (głównie w USA) fascynacji buddyzmem zen. W artykule zostanie podjęta także próba pokazania istnienia strukturalnych podobieństw między minimalizmem i buddyzmem zen.
Americans now live in a time and a place in which freedom and autonomy are valued above all else and in which expanded opportunities for self-determination are regarded as a sign of the psychological well-being of individuals and the moral well-being of the culture. This article argues that freedom, autonomy, and self-determination can become excessive, and that when that happens, freedom can be experienced as a kind of tyranny. The article further argues that unduly influenced by the ideology of economics and rational-choice theory, modern American society has created an excess of freedom, with resulting increases in people's dissatisfaction with their lives and in clinical depression. One significant task for a future psychology of optimal functioning is to deemphasize individual freedom and to determine which cultural constraints are necessary for people to live meaningful and satisfying lives.
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
Paying attention is a critical first step toward learning. For children in primary school classrooms there can be many things to attend to other than the focus of a lesson, such as visual displays on classroom walls. The aim of this study was to use eye-tracking techniques to explore the impact of visual displays on attention and learning for children. Critically, we explored these issues for children developing typically and for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Both groups of children watched videos of a teacher delivering classroom activities-2 of "story-time" and 2 mini lessons. Half of the videos each child saw contained high levels of classroom visual displays in the background (high visual display [HVD]) and half had none (no visual display [NVD]). Children completed worksheets after the mini lessons to measure learning. During viewing of all videos children's eye movements were recorded. The presence of visual displays had a significant impact on attention for all children, but to a greater extent for children with ASD. Visual displays also had an impact on learning from the mini lessons, whereby children had poorer learning scores in the HVD compared with the NVD lesson. Individual differences in age, verbal, nonverbal, and attention abilities were important predictors of learning, but time spent attending the visual displays in HVD was the most important predictor. This novel and timely investigation has implications for the use of classroom visual displays for all children, but particularly for children with ASD. (PsycINFO Database Record
The idea that human well-being (WB) can be supported and even enhanced by using, producing, buying, selling and consuming less ‘stuff’ is anathema to many living under consumer capitalism. Yet a growing research literature actually finds that frequent engagement in pro-ecological behaviours (PEBs) is positively correlated with personal WB. This paper reviews data relevant to three possible explanations for the apparent compatibility of PEBs and WB: (i) engaging in PEBs leads to psychological need satisfaction, which in turn causes WB; (ii) being in a good mood causes people to engage in more prosocial behaviours, including PEBs; and (iii) personal characteristics and lifestyles such as intrinsic values, mindfulness and voluntary simplicity cause both PEBs and WB. Because each explanation has some empirical support, I close by reflecting on some relevant interventions and policies that could strengthen each of these three pathways and thereby promote living both well and sustainably. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Material demand reduction’.