Is More Always Better? The American Experiment

  • Peter C. WhybrowEmail author
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)


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?


Financial Crisis Spontaneous Order Material Wealth Housing Bubble Maximize Food Intake 
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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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