Attachment theory and the modern consumer

During the five years of research, laying the base of my report1, the consumer as a ‘concept’ emerged. The evolution from consumer, an invention dating from the Great Depression2, to the ‘modern consumer’ brought a process of infantilisation3. A toddler-like attitude4 and behavior can be seen in nowadays consumers: focused on the here and now, desiring to stay young etarnally, dismissing aspects of an adult human being and a self-centered attitude.
Although the influence of commerce and marketing5 in this long and continuing evolution is clear, another explanation for this transformation could be proposed. Studying Attachment Theory6, as an approach of addiction and other deviant behavior, I discovered a long list of toddler-like aspects of insecure attachment7: blame others, avoid or even deny responsibility, selfishness, easily being distracted, and other traits that don’t fit a grown up human.
My theory regards the modern consumer as a fundamentally insecure attached8 child, growing up from a retarded devolopment in his early years. Basic human aspects, like caring for other people, focus on social groups and society, responsibility for one’s behavior, a desire to be meaningful, are no longer obvious. Instead, a craving for stuff9 and a striving for success10 and affluence11 appears. This could also be an explanation of the Western societies as ‘every man for himself’12. According to John Bowlby, the problems of today should be understood and dealt with at a developmental level13. We could use the insights the attachment theory offers to help create a more healty society14.

  1. The modern Consumer, cause and remedy for the ecological crisis | Caspar Bosma | Dubbelgoed, 2023 |
  2. The Second Wave, A Brief History of Consumer Culture | The MIT Press Reader |
  3. Forever Young: The Teen-Aging of Modern Culture | Marcel Danesi | 2003
  4. The Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult and the Figure of Kidult |
  5. The Role of Marketing in the Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult |
  6. Attachment Theory |
  7. Eleven Characteristics of a Childish Adult |
  8. Attachment disorder |
  9. 7 Ways to Kill That Urge to Buy New Stuff |
  10. Status anxiety: when striving for success impacts our mental health |
  11. Why Materialism Is Impacting Your Happiness and Success |
  12. Paul Verhaeghe over zijn boek Identiteit |
  13. John Bowlby | Encyclopedia MDPI |
  14. Parents, partnerships and community: attachment theory and adult learning | Ted Fleming – |







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