Minimalist are the group of people who defy the term “Consumerism“. Consumerism promotes acquisition and accumulation of goods. On the other hand, minimalism is a lifestyle that embraces “less is more” concept. There are very less documented scientific evidence available about this lifestyle. However, books on minimalism galore in online market place.

Based on the reading, I could find three important aspects to lead a minimalist life.

  1. Say “NO” to unwanted things: Minimalist don’t buy unnecessary products. It is obvious that they are not by influenced offers, discounts and other promotions. They feel buying unwanted things leads to debt. (Babauta, 2017; Millburn and Nicodemus, 2017)
  2. Say “BYE” to unwanted things: Minimalist don’t wish to possess more products with them. If you wish to embrace minimalism, start probing into your cupboard, desk, closet and garage. While probing, get rid of things that you haven’t used for a long time. Some minimalist say, if you haven’t used a product for 90 days, then it is a clutter. That means, it is time to give it up (Babauta, 2017; Millburn and Nicodemus, 2017).
  3. Say “NO” to emotions: Leo Babauta , the author of Zen Habits in his blog advocates us to give up our emotional attachment with clothes and things that we own.(Babauta, 2017)

These are three principles, I found in common among people who lead a minimalist lifestyle. Fundamental question that arose in my mind after reading about them is “Are these minimalist rational?”

Minimalism and Rationality:-

Behavioural economics concepts like self-control, endowment effect, and loss aversion and befits well for this discussion.

  1. Self control: Walter Mischel showed people don’t have self-control with his famous “Marshmallow experiment“. Where preschoolers  are given two choice – a) one  marshmallow now or b) two marshmallow later. To get two marshmallow they need to wait for 15 minutes. In the study he found 33% of the children ate it immediately, another 33% waited but below 15 minutes and the other 33% were able to exhibit self-control and self-regulation and received two marshmallow. (Mischel, Shoda and Rodriguez, 1989)
  2. Endowment Effect: Richard Thaler conducted a study in Simon Fraser University. Undergraduate economics students of the university were given coffee mugs and pens randomly. The students were then asked to trade them. Most of them preferred not to sell them and who preferred to sell them quoted higher price with a median price of $5.25 for the mugs. The buyers of the are willing to pay low with a median price $2.25. This shows people give more value to their belongings also they wish to hold whatever they have in their possession (Kahneman, Knetsch and Thaler, 2017).
  3. Loss aversion: From the same experiment mentioned above, Richard Thaler has explained people don’t trade-off their holdings (assets/products) due to loss aversion. Look at this example to better understand it, given a choice to get “$900 for sure or 90% chance to get $1000” (Kahneman, 2015). What will be your preference in this case?. Mostly people will prefer $900 for sure option, since in the other case there is 10% chance to lose $1000. Though, the value in the second choice is higher, the minimal risk attached to it will make people to prefer the first choice.

In the case of Minimalist, these three effects doesn’t play a significant role. Firstly, they acknowledge that they don’t buy more. This behaviour exhibits that they are able to control themselves. One has to study, whether minimalist are influenced by offers, discounts or promotion. Secondly, often they are willing to discard products at ease. Hence, attachment towards the products is minimal. Finally, they never worried about losing their possession which says they are not imbued by loss aversion too.  Hence, I believe there is a quotient of rationality sticking along with them. However, a through scientific study is needed to analyse their behaviour.

minimalism-the-less-that-owns-you

Image retrieved from: http://www.simplyfiercely.com

 

 

 

Studies related to minimalist are not available. This may be due to two reasons:

  1. Minimalist are different: Every minimalist lead a different life, Tommy Strobel save their living space, Colin Wright carry only 51 products with him during their travel, Joshua Becker authors books and speaks about minimalism and some are still striving to become a minimalist. Hence there is not set standard scale to say what is minimalism. Some people may hold 100 products and someone else may possess only 30 products, however both of claim they are minimalist. There is no standard yardstick to measure minimalism.
  2. Minimalist are rare: In the world of consumerism, spotting a minimalist is very tough. However, there is a community of minimalist, whom we can access and study about them.

A scientific study is needed to understand rationality and behaviour of minimalist. As embracing minimalism has great benefits like saving natural resources and leading a happy life without clutter.

References:

Tversky, A. and Kahneman, D. (2017). Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model. [online] Available at: https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/106/4/1039/1873382 [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J. and Thaler, R. (2017). Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem. [online] Jstor.org. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2937761 [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

Babauta, L. (2017). » minimalism in steps mnmlist. [online] Mnmlist.com. Available at: http://mnmlist.com/minimalism-steps/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

Millburn, J. and Nicodemus, R. (2017). What Is Minimalism? | The Minimalists. [online] The Minimalists. Available at: https://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

Mischel, W., Shoda, Y. and Rodriguez, M. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244(4907), pp.933-938.

Kahneman, D. (2015). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 

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