The psychology of why we hate cheap things

Posted on June 5, 2017


“In assessing what material things are important and worth paying attention to, we’re oddly prejudiced against cheapness, and frustratingly drawn to the expensive, for reasons that don’t necessarily stand up to examination,” explains The School of Life in its mini documentary, “Why We Hate Cheap Things.”

Kathleen Elkins of Business Insider gives both the historical and psychological explanations for why we disregard cheap items:

1. We associate cheap prices with a lack of value.

As The School of Life describes, when we have a lot for something nice, we appreciate it to the full. "Yet as its price in the market falls, passion has a habit of fading away." This results in us overlooking, or losing appreciation for, things that have low cost but high value.

2. For most of history, there truly was a strong correlation between cost and value.

At least for a while, the expensive products were indeed the better products. The higher the price, the better things tended to be, according to The School of Life, because there was simply no way both for prices to be low and quality high. Everything had to be made by hand, by expensively trained artisans with raw materials that were difficult to transport.

3. The Industrial Revolution changed things.

Upon the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, we figured out how to make high quality products at cheap prices, thanks to technological advances. Today, however, society essentially disallows us from getting excited over cheap things. "It would be considered strange to get hyped over a $3 carton of eggs from a chicken, yet we're allowed to get giddy over caviar - a different type of egg - because of its price tag."

Watch the entire explanation at

Category(s):Compulsive Spending / Shopping

Source material from Business Insider

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