Is More Always Better? The American Experiment

Chapter
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Abstract

This chapter focuses upon the US as the paradigmatic case of a materially driven, success-oriented society. Since the 1950s, a steady increase in living standards has not made US–Americans any happier. On the contrary, obesity, anxiety, depression and other symptoms of ill-being are on the rise. This chapter identifies the root cause of these negative trends as a mismatch between evolved human behaviors and the novel habitat of material affluence. In consequence the US has become symptomatic of a society out of balance, with many citizens pursuing a self-destructive, competitive lifestyle—working too much and sleeping too little. The chapter closes by asking: is the US exceptional or is its cultural experience the bellwether of a globalizing, consumptive greed that is fed by enticements of our own manufacture?

Keywords

Financial Crisis Spontaneous Order Material Wealth Housing Bubble Maximize Food Intake 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human BehaviorUniversity of California (UCLA)Los AngelesUSA

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