Are you a victim?
Test your materialism
1. Which of the following is comparable to the
size of a typical three-car garage?
a. A basketball court
b. A McDonald’s restaurant
c. An RV
d. The average home in the 1950s
D. On average, a three-car garage occupies
900 square feet, which is the average size of
an entire home in the 1950s. Many people
use the extra garage space to store things
they own and seldom use.
2. How much time does the average American
spend watching television commercials?
a. 6 months
b. 3 months
c. 1 year
d. 1.5 years
C. In addition, by the age of twenty, the average
American has seen more than one million
different commercial messages. Advertising
accounts for two-thirds of the space in
newspapers and forty percent of our mail.
In contrast, Americans on average spend only
forty minutes a week playing with their children,
and members of working couples talk with one
another on average only twelve minutes a day.
3. True or false? Americans carry $1 billion in
personal debt, not including real estate and
False. Americans carry $1 trillion in personal
debt – approximately $4,000 for every
man, woman, and child, not including real
estate and mortgages.
On average, Americans save only four percent
of their income. The Japanese average is
4. Since 1950, Americans alone have used
more resources than:
a. Everyone who ever lived before them
b. The combined third world populations
c. The Romans at the height of the
d. All of the above
D. All of the above. Since 1950, Americans alone
have used more resources than everyone who ever
lived before them. Each American uses up to
twenty tons of basic raw materials annually.
Americans throw away seven million cars a year,
two million plastic bottles an hour and enough
aluminum cans annually to make six thousand
1. The sluggish, unfulfilled feeling that results
from trying to keep up with what everyone else
seems to have.
2. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth
and material possessions.
3. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste, and
debt in pursuit of having “more.”
Are you a victim? Complete this simple
true/false test to find out.
1. I’m willing to pay more for a shirt if it comes
from a specific store or has a specific brand
2. There are more than 3000 songs on my
3. If I’m cold, I would rather turn up the heat
in my house than put on a sweatshirt.
4. I’m willing to work forty years at a job I
dislike so I can live “comfortably.”
5. Whenever I’m feeling down, I like to go
shopping or out to eat to treat myself.
6. I want to drive an S.U.V., although I rarely
drive in conditions that warrant having one.
7. Most of the things my friends and family
and I enjoy doing together are free.
8. I only buy things if they are on sale.
9. It is important to have a cell phone with
10. To get to school, I walk, ride my bike, or
ride the bus.
11. I never judge people based on what they are
12. I can’t imagine what life was like without
OnDemand, DVR/TiVo, and FaceBook.
13. It is difficult for me to hang out with my
friends without spending money.
14. I have more than ten pairs of shoes.
15. I worry about the effects of advertising on
• For questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, and 14 give yourself
2 points for every “True” answer, and 1 point for every
• For questions 7, 8, 10, 11, and 15 give yourself 0 points for
every “True” and 2 points for every “False” answer.
• If you scored:
– 10-15: No dangerous signs of Affluenza at this time.
– 16-22: Warning: you suffer from mild Affluenza.
– 23-30: Cut up your credit cards and call a doctor!
In a notebook, reflect on the American Affluenza
epidemic and on the results of the quiz you just
Questions to consider in your response:
– When do you have money to spend? How do you earn the money
– What kinds of things would you save your money for?
– How do you differentiate between what you “want” and what you
– Do you buy things only when you need them?
– Do you have time to yourself? How do you spend it?
– What is your attitude about having material possessions? Is it
better to have more or to have less? Why do you feel this way?