But believing in this theory has also had dire consequences on the health of the planet. Attempts to steadily increase personal wealth and pursue endless economic growth have come at a heavy cost. As wealth has increased, so has the use of resources and pollution.
Until now, researchers have struggled to find appropriate ways to separate economic growth from harm economic theories. Now however, a new study led by psychologists at the Universities of Bath, Bath Spa and Exeter challenges the idea that unlimited desires are human nature, which could have significant implications for the planet.
Nearly 8,000 people from 33 countries spread across six continents surveyed how much money people want to achieve their ‘absolutely ideal life’. In 86% of countries, most people thought they could achieve it with US$10 million or less, and in some countries less than $1 million.
While these figures may still seem high, they are relatively generous when considered to represent the ideal wealth of a person throughout their life. Expressed differently, the wealth of the world’s richest person, at over $200 billion, is enough for over 200,000 people to achieve their ‘absolutely ideal life’.
The researchers collected responses about ideal wealth from individuals in countries across all inhabited continents, including countries rarely used in cross-cultural psychology such as Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Tunisia, Nicaragua and Vietnam. People with unlimited wants were identified in every country, but they were always in the minority.
they found that There were youth with unlimited desires and city dwellers who valued success, power and independence more.
Unlimited desire was also more common in countries with greater acceptance of inequality and in countries with greater collectivism.: Focused more on group than individual responsibilities and outcomes.
For example, Indonesia, which is known to be more collectivist and accepting of inequality, had the majority of people with unlimited wants, while the more individualistic and equality-concerned UK had fewer. However, there were discrepancies such as in China, where some people had unlimited wants despite high cultural collectivity and acceptance of inequality.
Lead researcher, Dr Paul Bain, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath (UK), explained: “The ideology of unlimited wants, when portrayed as human nature, leads people to buy more than they actually want. can create social pressure for
“Finding that most people’s ideal life is actually quite liberal can make it socially easier for people to behave in ways that make them genuinely happy and lead to stronger policies to help protect the planet.” stands by.”
Co-author, Dr. Renata Bongiorno, from the University of Exeter and Bath Spa University (UK), said: “The findings are a clear reminder that the plurality approach is not warranted in policies that allow the accumulation of excessive amounts of money. A range of individuals by small numbers.”
“If most people are striving for limited funding, policies that support people’s more limited desires, such as a wealth tax to fund sustainability initiatives, may be more popular than is often portrayed. “