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The Diderot effect: How possessions and identity influence our consumer behavior

The Diderot effect describes the phenomenon that the acquisition of a new possession can influence our entire consumption behavior. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Diderot Effect, understand its effects, and learn strategies to consume more consciously.

What is the Diderot effect?

The origin of the Diderot Effect lies with Denis Diderot, a French writer of the 18th century. He described the connection between possessions and identity. The Diderot effect describes the cycle of increased consumption that occurs when we acquire a new possession. Once we own something new, we tend to buy more things that match or enhance our new possession.

The Diderot effect in online marketing

Personalized product recommendations as a trigger of the Diderot effect:

In online marketing, companies use personalized product recommendations to trigger the Diderot effect. By analyzing our previous purchasing behavior and preferences, products are suggested to us that match our interest. This entices us to purchase additional products that complement or enhance our new possessions.

Cross-selling strategies and the Diderot effect

Another method of using the Diderot effect in online marketing is cross-selling strategies. When we purchase a product, we are offered complementary products that complete our original product. By presenting these products to us as suitable complements, the likelihood that we will also purchase them increases. This reinforces the Diderot effect and leads to a further increase in our consumption.

The effects of the Diderot effect

Financial strain and debt: One of the main effects of the Diderot effect is financial strain and debt. Due to the cycle of increased consumption, we spend more and more money to add to or upgrade our new possessions. This can lead to a strained financial situation as we live beyond our means and potentially get into debt.

Sustainability and environmental impact: Another aspect influenced by the Diderot effect is sustainability and environmental impact. The constant cycle of consumption created by the Diderot effect leads to increased consumption of resources and production of goods. This in turn pollutes the environment and contributes to waste. By consuming more consciously, we can reduce the negative environmental impact and contribute to sustainability.

Strategies for overcoming the Diderot effect

Self-reflection and conscious consumption: One strategy for overcoming the Diderot effect is to reflect on oneself and critically question one's purchasing decisions. By becoming aware of why we want to purchase a new possession and whether it is really necessary, we can break the cycle of increasing consumption. It is important to distinguish our needs from our wants and make conscious purchasing decisions.

Prioritize and find satisfaction: Another strategy is to prioritize and focus on finding satisfaction in what we already have. Instead of always striving for new possessions, we should focus on what we already have and how we can value that. By realizing that true satisfaction does not come from always having new possessions, but from appreciating what we already have, we can overcome the Diderot effect.

Minimalism and deceleration: Another strategy for overcoming the Diderot effect is the minimalism approach. By ridding ourselves of unnecessary possessions and focusing on the essentials, we can break free from the urge to consume more and more. Deceleration, conscious living and the reduction of material ballast can help us overcome the Diderot effect and move toward more fulfilling consumer behavior.


The Diderot effect influences our consumer behavior in a variety of ways. In online marketing in particular, personalized product recommendations and cross-selling strategies play a major role in promoting the Diderot effect.

It is important to be aware of the effects and apply strategies to overcome the Diderot effect. By consuming more consciously, focusing on satisfaction instead of always having new possessions, and practicing minimalism and deceleration, we can overcome the Diderot effect and achieve more fulfilling consumer behavior.