The Psychology of Consumerism

On the marketing and behavioral aspects of consumerism and the advantages and disadvantages of consumerism

Consumerism is in a way the more human aspect of business and companies and businesses consider consumers along with their employees as the essential ‘people elements’ of their endeavor. Yet consumerism can have its other meanings and represent a culture of buying, highlight the virtues and vices of a materialistic society and emphasize on the importance of globalized business environment. Companies have to keep their consumers happy and develop and sell new products based on consumer needs. The needs of the consumers and the needs of businesses however seem to be circular as companies create needs of consumers and consumers also project their needs to businesses suggesting an interdependent relationship. When I say, companies create consumer needs, we can consider the example of Apple iPhone. Apple successfully created a need in consumers to possess a product that would successfully integrate the phone and the iPod. Of course Apple must have also done the initial survey to find out what consumer needs or demands are and then finally expanded and focused on these consumer needs to come up with the new products, including the iPhone. A good company is the one that can provide realistic and well defined frameworks for initial vague consumer needs. The needs of the consumers are initially not well defined or clear as consumers tend to have some idea about what they want but are not too sure about what they actually want. So through surveys and discussions with consumers and in house technical or product development advisers, companies are able to develop on these initial consumer ideas and vague consumer needs and provide shape to their future product plans.

Yet we could first try to define consumerism and understand why consumerism is such an important aspect of business and marketing. The term consumerism seems to have both positive and negative connotations as consumerism could mean a culture of possessions and glorification of materialism. Consumerism could however also mean progressively more consumption of goods and products that could benefit the economy and the markets with a heightened buying culture among people although consumerism could also mean the entire gamut of marketing and business activities that finally lead to the buying of products by consumers.

Consumerism thus has a broad definition and can include a range of buying and business behaviors, so finally consumerism is a ‘kind of behavior’ and that is how it is important to psychology and psychologists. Consumerism is about individuals or groups and how they select or buy secure and use or dispose products and services so that they can satisfy their needs of consumption and the practice of consumerism would also have a significant effect on society. The study of consumer behavior in a systematic and even a scientific manner would be the basis of the psychology of consumers and consumerism. The psychology of consumerism could be considered from two different aspects – one from a marketing or the business viewpoint in which consumerism is seen as essential since it helps maintain companies and businesses so the psychology would be based on how to attract consumers whereas the other viewpoint is the behavioral aspect of consumerism or why consumers buy or consume products and services, and what are the reasons of a buying culture and how this could be justified with normal or abnormal behavioral analysis.

The latter part of this discussion can help us answer several issues about consumerism.

Consumer Psychology from a Marketing Aspect –

Consumers buy according to their personal needs and what they feel is necessary and also according to social needs as they follow trends and thus become interested in certain products and services. Certain products appear more important, essential or attractive to consumers and these products tend to have certain value which makes it easier for companies to sell these products. Businesses and companies are capable of attracting more consumers by using the psychological principles of marketing and consumer behaviour and the key is to create want or the requirement for a product. Businesses and companies understand initial consumer needs through surveys and then they develop new products to attract consumers. Once products are developed, brand image and advertisements help in providing an association between products and companies and when consumers develop an element of familiarity with this association between brand name and product features, they tend to even want the product. In keeping with the demands of competition and consumerism, companies tend to give promotional offers, discounts, sales and low priced products with the aim of attracting more consumers. Considering the marketing perspective, consumerism is advantageous as more consumers and increased buying behavior would mean more sales of products although the disadvantages of increased consumer spending would be minimal except that increased consumerism would also signal increased competition from other manufacturers.

Thus the most essential features of consumer psychology from a marketing point of view are – creating the need for consumerism or for a specific product by advertising specific and unusual features of the product, developing the association between brands and products and offering attractive options such as discounts and sales to attract not just more consumers but also more sales.

Consumer Psychology from a Behavioral Aspect –

From a behavioral perspective, it would be interesting to engage in an analysis of buying behavior and we can try to understand why consumers buy in the first place. There could be several reasons for buying that arise from social and personal needs, from emotional and financial needs and some of these needs are healthy and positive and in fact essential in our daily life. However, buying behavior as in ‘shopaholics’ would be unpredictable, random, and even unhealthy, from a psychological point of view as excessive buying or consumerism cold indicate bipolar illness or a kind of addiction. However consumerism and specific focus on luxury brands could highlight the almost unhealthy addiction to fashion trends and status symbols in modern times and globalization seems to be encouraging this. Companies and businesses create choices in consumers so consumers already have a ‘need’ when they engage in buying behavior. Although this need could be personal and social, the need could also perfectly an emotional need to possess.

From a psychological viewpoint consumerism is about fulfilling our inherent need to control and possess certain objects which could well replace or substitute other possessions. For example, a woman undergoing divorce proceedings may suddenly develop the irresistible need to buy things continually because the need for possessiveness towards a partner has been diverted to other directions.

From a more clinical point of view consumerism could be explained with abnormal psychology and the role of depression, the need to satisfy excessive possessiveness and also the blind faith or dependence on fashion trends and all these are seen as negative aspects of consumer psychology. If consumerism is considered as a positive phenomenon, the advantages of consumerism would be the application of psychological principles in understanding buying behavior.

Consumerism and the study of consumerism helps us to understand and recognize not just consumer needs and how these needs are created or fulfilled but also the behavior and attitudes of consumers towards products and the business directions or endeavors to understand marketing from a behavioral perspective. The psychology of consumerism is thus about creating needs and associations so consumers develop certain familiarity with the product ideas even before buying them.

Consumerism could be both positive and negative and represent not just a global and globalized culture but also highlight the superficial trends and deeper necessities of individuals across societies and communities.

The Top 10 Reasons To Become A School Psychologist

It doesn’t seem like that long ago I graduated from my School Psychology graduate program but it has actually been going on 16 years now. Time flies and much has changed in the field of School Psychology. However, it seems like my reasons for becoming a School Psychologist have relatively remained intact. Here they are:

1) The pay isn’t that bad. Even though we are required to complete 3 years of graduate school which includes a one year internship that is commonly unpaid, School Psychologists get compensated relatively well. The average salary seems to be in the $60-80K range after about 5 – 10 years of experience.

2) The vacation time isn’t bad either. School Psychologists are commonly on a 210 day contract or around there and don’t work through the summer unless they want to pick-up some extra money. This allows time to spend with family or to go on long vacations in the summer.

3) School Psychologists are relatively well respected in the school setting. Despite the fact that most individuals think we are guidance counselors and very few school officials even know exactly what we do, School Psychologists seem to be held in high regard and are commonly looked for when it comes to finding solutions to a wide range of issues.

4) School Psychologists have a great deal of autonomy in the work place. Quite often you will be assigned more than one school. This can be stressful in terms of work load but it can also be a blessing in disguise since you will be able to move from school to school depending on each school’s needs. You usually aren’t stuck in an office being watched by your boss. If you are, you probably need to re-consider where you are working.

5) Number 4 brings up another good point. The job outlook for School Psychologists is pretty good. I don’t have the statistics but it seems that there are plenty of jobs available to those that are willing to move about the country. With the economy taking a turn for the worse lately I have definitely seen a decrease but even in tough economic times it seems that there are opportunities still out there for school psychologists. I have found Schoolspring.com a great place to go to get a feel for actually how many schools are looking for new School Psychologists.

6) You feel like you are helping those that need help. Sure, weeks and months pass by where you slog through the paperwork and complete the evaluations. However, every so often you are confronted with a situation in which you are able to provide some real assistance to someone in need of it. That always feels good. I actually recommend finding a position in those areas that are the most economically depressed and full of problems. After all, this is where we are needed the most and is also where our efforts are appreciated the most by parents, children and administrators. I work on the Mexican border and wouldn’t change that for anything. Despite the news reports, the people and the community here are very grateful and value their children’s education quite a lot. I very rarely get the over aggressive soccer mom yelling at me because her child isn’t in the gifted program.

7) Opportunity to branch out into other fields. With a Masters in Psychology one can teach at the community college level, work weekends for the local counseling agency, perform outside evaluations for other local area school districts, and/or branch out into educational consulting. Not too many fields where you are qualified to do so many different things.

8) If you don’t want to supplement your income in the various methods in #7 the field of School Psychology offers a great many areas you can choose from to be an “expert” in and apply in your everyday professional life while being a School Psychologist. There are post graduate certificate programs in School Neuropsychology as well as behavior specialist and/or life coaching, all of which can be applied with your students in the school setting.

9) We are called “Psychologists” but do not have a license. This was actually up for review by the APA but thankfully we can still call ourselves School “Psychologists”. Funny thing how many Clinical “Psychologists” attempted to become School “Psychologists” due to the poor job prospects for clinical psych degrees but that is another story and issue.

10) Helping is something you are driven to do. If you like helping kids who are basically just in need of a bit of support to get them through to a successful life then the field of School Psychology might be fore you. I wish I were able to read the ups and downs of being a school psychologist back in the early 90’s before I ventured out into this profession. However, this article is there for those who want to consider this profession. No profession is perfect and jobs vary a great deal depending on locations, bosses, school boards and so on. In my experience it seems that School Psychology positions are more similar than they are different and the job is what you make of it. You have the freedom to start programs or specialize in your area of choice. Not too many professions out there where you can do that.

The Psychology of Kindness

On the human need for personal kindness and kindness of others, and what it means for the future of humanity

Kindness or benevolence is a very important psychological attribute. We are kind to others for various altruistic and sometimes selfish reasons. An individual may be kind to a homeless man and give him a blanket because of sympathetic and empathetic reasons or a man may be kind to a woman due to ulterior motives. Kindness is thus triggered from personal motivations including need for fame or reputation, need for love or companionship or from genuine empathetic and sympathetic considerations.

Kindness towards a homeless man is a sympathetic type. whereas kindness kindness towards a friend is an empathetic type.

Kindness towards someone in need may come from altruism or need for personal reputation. For example, your act of kindness may arise from your need to be seen as a good Samaritan or a benevolent member of society. Or a man may be kind towards others because he needs fame for his donations and gifts to society. A man may be kind to men or women as there may be a need to gain other people’s affections, love, sexual favors, respect or companionship. So kindness may be motivated by empathy, sympathy, need for reputation, respect or other ulterior motives.

Some people are naturally kind and cannot refuse if someone asks them for a favor. Kindness is related more to mental strength than weakness. Developing a theory of kindness in psychology could involve studying the activity of the brain and neural circuits when people suddenly feel this emotion of overwhelming kindness. Thus a physiological basis is important in a psychological theory of kindness. There may also be “kindness gene” and some people may be kinder than others due to hereditary reasons, they may have had a kind parent and thus inherited the trait. Kindness can be learnt through social conditioning and some people are kind because they watched and learnt from their parents or teachers.

I personally believe that kindness is an innate psychological trait and some people are more kind because they are born that way. I will not go back to the nature versus nurture debates but learning kindness from others may finally become too superficial if there is no innate natural kindness. So, I would suggest that kindness is innate and kind people are born that way.

Psychologists must definitely study the kindness gene and if there is any, what triggers kindness, what kind of emotion or neural activity is related to kindness and how it can be defined in psychological terms. The social conditioning of kindness is a possible theory and as I said, social conditioning may not finally lead to genuine kindness in individuals, as kindness I believe is inherent or innate and not taught or learned.

I wrote in my other essay on Altruism that altruism, which is a more purposeful or social kindness could be due to ulterior or unconscious motives of recognition. Do philanthropists always give away wealth because they are genuinely kind or are they looking for fame, reputation, respect and recognition for their philanthropic services?

Kindness could be based on sympathy, empathy, need for fame or personal recognition or a sense of duty or responsibility towards society or fellow citizens. So, some kids are kind, give away their clothes to homeless people, because they are naturally kind and sympathetic. Some may see a homeless person and feel empathy as they too may have been homeless at some point. Some men may intentionally develop personal kindness because they need fame and recognition and others feel a sense of strong responsibility towards society and perform kind acts. So there are specifically six reasons suggesting six types of kindness according to the underlying reason or cause.

1. Empathetic

2. Sympathetic

3. Altruistic or social

4. Motive oriented

5. Responsible

6. Superstition-based

These six different types can be elaborated with more examples. You feel sympathetic towards your dog and loosen his chain and you feel empathetic towards your friend and help them with advice or resources. People may feel a genuine altruistic need to give or they may have ulterior motives such as fame, recognition or even money and success. The kindness related to social responsibility comes from a genuine need to influence society, and kindness in older people is often accompanied by this overwhelming sense of responsibility towards other human beings so this is a type of social kindness.

I would suggest that children are more triggered by genuine sympathy and the adults are motivated by need for recognition or social responsibility when they engage in acts of kindness.

Sometimes you will see people leaving large amounts of cash in the Church or donating large amounts of money to others because they feel it will bring them good luck. This is superstition-based or can be termed as “superstitional” kindness. Let us turn to responsibility. Some individuals are “kind” towards a cause because they may feel responsible towards society and may want to do something about the cause. You see an ad to donate clothes and money to refugees in a foreign country. You immediately decide to give a large sum quite impulsively. Is this impulse due to genuine sympathy, empathy, responsibility, altruism, superstition or recognition need? As I wrote in the essay on the Psychology of Altruism, there may be ulterior motives for being altruistic and genuine selfless altruism is rare or non-existent. However, kindness or generosity as a result of social responsibility or responsibility towards other less privileged individuals may be considered as an altruistic type of kindness. So, altruism and social responsibility are associated in fundamental ways.

Now let me talk about the human need for kindness and this means both giving kindness and receiving kindness. Humans do have a genuine need for love, affection, happiness and also kindness. Kindness comes from love, affection, sympathy, empathy so may be considered a type of secondary or derived emotion rather than primary emotion such as love or anger. Let us say, sympathy creates kindness but it is necessary to give and receive kindness because human beings are social beings. Kindness creates a bond between the giver and the receiver and in cases when you are showing kindness to a cause, it is a generic social or altruistic kindness. It also creates your emotional bond with society and your cause. So, giving creates social bonds and that is why it exists in the first place. Kindness created social bonds and helped build families and societies. On the other hand, receiving also evokes a sense of gratitude among the receivers of kind acts and helps to create attachments and generosity. If you are generous towards a homeless man, he may learn from you and become generous towards others when he is no longer homeless. So, kindness develops or creates a cycle of positive interaction in society. Such positive interactions are at the core of social change, transformations and a spirit of genuine concern for each other. This is ultimately the goal of humanity.

How Much Salary Does a Psychologist Get?

Description

They can work in a wide variety of settings that includes private businesses, schools, group or private facilities, and hospitals. Clinical psychologists use their wide variety of skills and knowledge of the human mind and behavior to treat patients with a wide variety of issues. Clinical psychologists commonly help patients readjust to life after a life-changing event, like divorce, death, or can help patients with other mental or physical illnesses. They often work in one-on-one settings with patients to help them evaluate, diagnose, and provide appropriate treatment for mental and emotional illness. Counseling psychologists often do much of the same but they also help their patients to understand and deal with their problems. They help the patients indicate methods for treating their own issues, often dealing with behavioral or substance abuse problems. Industrial-organizational psychologists are another popular specialization. This field of psychology deals with the study of work place behavior, and industrial-organizational psychologists usually work in the private sector, helping companies to select the ideal employee and to maximize productivity.

Education, Training and Certification

For you to become a psychologist, a master’s or doctorate degree in Psychology is almost certainly needed. However, there are certain perquisites before enrolling in one of these. You will need a bachelor’s degree, and some Ph.D. programs require a master’s degree before you can enroll. While strong undergraduate grades are not necessarily required, they certainly will help you be admitted to a graduate program. At the completion of doctoral programs, students are required to complete a yearlong internship as part of the program. The amount of education and degrees requires varies upon which specialty one wishes to enter. Admission to master’s and Ph.D. programs can be competitive and often require either an undergraduate degree in psychology or clinical practice or coursework.

Psychologists will require workplace training before obtaining a license, like face-to-face interaction and work experience are very important aspects of the job. In all states, psychologists who practice independently must have a license. Most clinical and counseling psychologists need a doctorate in psychology, an internship, and one to two years of professional experience and to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Many specific fields of psychology, like school psychologist, may require a specific certification to practice. Certain workplaces, such as hospitals, may also require specific or additional licenses and certifications.

Average Annual Salary

The average annual salary of psychologist is $72,220. This is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. The lowest 10% of all psychologists can expect to make less than $$38,450 each year while others with more experience in the top 10% can expect well over $109,340 each year.

Factors that Affects the Psychologist Salary

Psychologist salaries vary according to the area of psychology, with clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earning an average $72,220; industrial-organizational psychologist salary is, on average, $98,800; and the average for all other psychologist salary is $86,380. In general, the highest paid psychologists are those working in the industrial organizational sector that includes in areas such as human resources, administration, and management, as well as sales and marketing. Of these, those working in management, scientific, and technical consulting services have the highest average salary, at $125,980.

• Education and Specialization – A psychologist requires a master’s as well as a doctoral degree in psychology at minimum. The master’s program can be in either arts or sciences of psychology. At the doctoral level, for those wishing to engage in psychologist services for clients, a one-year internship with supervision is generally required. Some schools allow students to enter a doctoral program immediately following a bachelor’s degree, reducing the time spent in school. While there are positions for those holding only a master’s degree (a shorter program than a doctoral one), a doctoral degree will yield a higher salary.

• Experience and Position – The majority of psychologists have a doctoral degree, and so increased experience on the job will result in a higher salary. Advanced-level positions will pay higher than entry-level. In addition, particular specializations are in higher demand, such as neuropsychologists or engineering psychologists. However, industrial-organizational positions tend to be the most lucrative.

• Industry – With the multiplicity of possible areas for focus in psychology, the industry is highly variable. However, as mentioned, industrial-organizational psychologists tend to earn the highest wages. While a starting salary for a master’s holder will be in the $40,000 range, a doctorate-level entry position will receive above $50,000. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the top five percent of their earners have a salary greater than $250,000 per year.

• Location – While the greatest number of jobs for psychologists tends to be in more densely populated areas such as California and New York, the demand in more rural regions will yield a higher salary. While this is highly dependent on the specialization chosen, area such as Rhode Island and Hawaii, along with New York, pay better than others, averaging above $90,000 for most focuses.

Pass The EPPP (Examination For Professional Practice in Psychology)

To pass the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) you need help, a strategy. You can not just walk in to an examination center, sit down, and pass this examination without preparing. 

How Important is the EPPP?

The EPPP is one of the most important tests a psychologist will ever sit for. 

No matter how well you did in your graduate school classes. No matter how great you did on comprehensive examinations. Or how brilliant your dissertation defense was. Or how many journals accepted articles based on your dissertation. You may have been the star at your internship. Your internship director may have held you up as the model intern. Yet, despite it all…

If You Don’t Pass the EPPP…

If you fail the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology you will have very limited practice opportunities in the US or Canada. You will, virtually, be unable to practice anywhere without passing the it. At least not in any state or province that has a board of psychology that is a member of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). The only exceptions to requiring you to pass this exam being Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Yet even Quebec requires applicants from outside the province to pass the exam before they are allowed to practice.

The list of professional activities that you are restricted from when you are not licensed is long: You can’t have private patients. You can’t get insurance company reimbursement. You can’t print “Licensed Psychologist” on your business cards. Many employers require that you be licensed. Basically, if you can’t pass the EPPP you’ll have thrown away years of graduate study and thousands of dollars on education, and all the sacrifices you made.

The EPPP Defined

The EPPP is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Every psychologist who wants to hang out a shingle in any state in the USA or in almost any province in Canada needs to successfully complete it.

Who Makes the EPPP?

An organization in Montgomery, AL creates and markets the EPPP to State and Provincial psychology boards.

Content of the EPPP

The EPPP contains these 8 domains: Ethical, legal, and professional issues, Treatment, intervention, and prevention, Social and multi-cultural bases of behavior, Biological bases of behavior, Assessment and diagnosis, Cognitive-affective bases of behavior, Research methods and statistics, and Growth and life-span development.

EPPP Administration

The EPPP is made up of two hundred twenty-five multiple choice questions. The examinee has four hours and fifteen minutes exactly, to finish the exam.

The exam is administered via computer. The examinee locates and sits for the exam at a Prometric Test Center.

It’s natural to assume that having attained a PhD or PsyD in psychology, having passed an accredited graduate program in psychology, completed an internship, and defended a dissertation or research project you would be able to easily pass the exam. Or perhaps pass it with a bit of review. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Why EPPP Questions are Difficult

On the EPPP, examinees must pick the “best” answer, not necessarily the “right” answer. Wording is often inverse. Questions may specify “all are true except” or “all are false except.” Discriminating fine differences between the answers on this psychology exam can be very challenging.

The questions on the exam require you to not only be familiar with each of the eight domains, but to demonstrate the application of that knowledge.

It is not realistic to believe that you can prepare minimally for the EPPP, or prepare in the same manner you have in the past for examinations. Nor is it realistic to prepare minimally and simply plan on continually retesting until you pass the test. There are several reasons for this.

EPPP Registration Expenses

One reason that makes it unrealistic to keep retesting is the high cost. Each administration of the EPPP costs you $450. Each sitting at the Prometric Test Center to sit for the psychology exam costs $68.

State and Provincial psychology boards require the payment of licensing and administration fees before you are allowed to take the exam. You must obtain an Authorization to Test letter from your psychology board before the ASPPB will allow you to register for the psychology examination. Psychology board costs related to licensing and sitting for the exam, depending on where you live, can be upwards of a thousand dollars.

How Many Times Can I Take the EPPP?

Another reason it is unrealistic to repeatedly retake the EPPP is that there are limitations on how many times you can take it. The ASPPB restricts you to taking the exam four times annually, while your local psychology board may restrict you even further. After a certain number of unsuccessful attempts on the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology many psychology boards require you to convince them why you should be allowed to try to pass the exam again. Before you can take the test again your psychology board may require you to take additional classwork, gain further experience, or undergo supervision (for example).

All of these additional requirements can add significantly to the time it takes you to pass the EPPP.

Financial Costs of Retesting on the EPPP

Retakes of the EPPP are not free. You must pay the full fee to ASPPB ($450) and to Prometric ($68) each time you sit for the exam. Your psychology board will also charge you additional administration fees to reapply for another authorization letter to retake the exam. In all, the process of sitting for and passing this test are quite costly.

How to Pass the EPPP

So, in summary, passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology is a difficult undertaking that requires special preparation. However, help is available. Web sites, such as How To Pass The EPPP Without Even Trying! exist to make the process easier. With careful preparation, an understanding of the structure of the exam, the proper exam study materials, and test taking strategies specific to the EPPP, you can and will pass the test.