Segments in this Video

Introduction: Consumed: Identity and Anxiety in an Age of Plenty (01:49)


The film we are about to see uses "evolutionary psychology as a tool to look at modern society."

Consumerism--"Chasing Status" (01:29)

Psychology Professor Geoffrey Miller and Jonathan Chapman describe the pervasive nature of consumerism and how humans are striving for status to the detriment of personal relationships. Miller predicts future generations will question our absurd materialism.

Humans Synthesize Ways to Experience Mystery (02:17)

Viewers see archival appliance commercials. With the help of media, at an early age we learn to measure our importance by the things we own.

Insatiable Need for More & Mental Disorders (02:19)

Our highly developed society is a "playground for us all," and it enables us to feed our natural born hunger for experience. Prof. Geoffrey Miller points out that we experience unusually high anxiety in a world where we seem to have everything.

Environmental Cost of Consumerism (01:41)

An article by Dr. Warren Hern says humans have become a cancer to planet Earth. Prof. Tim Cooper discusses our unsustainable current rate of growth.

Quest to Understand the Human Brain (03:10)

Prof. Alastair McIntosh discusses our relative newness on the planet. The human brain has tripled in size over time. Prof. Geoffrey Miller discusses the abundance of time humans have for social status and sexual pursuits.

Evolution of Prestige (03:25)

Products have replaced language as a way of promoting ourselves to prospective mates. Aimee Plourde discusses differences between humans and other animals with regards to "rankings and social status." Learn why our brain's predisposition for growth contributes to boredom and restlessness.

"Indoctrinated to Consume from Birth" (02:46)

Humans have been successful at modernizing. See an archival commercial for the "Swing Wing." Marketers understand the "psychological pressure point" of status and budget millions for advertising to children.

1950s Consumerism (02:13)

Learn about the early 20th century propagandist, Edward Bernays, who coined the phrase, "public relations" and redefined advertising in America. Bernays sought to make consumerism about how we shape our success and our personality.

Superficial Sexual Appeal (02:28)

Prof. Geoffrey Miller discusses the false promise of popularity or attractiveness by virtue of product ownership. He explains how directing sexual advertising towards young consumers enables businesses to "capture more of their money,"

Becoming an "Ardent Narcissus" (03:04)

Prof. Geoffrey Miller describes the irony in putting one's efforts into consuming things for sexual attractiveness and then forgetting to reproduce. Aimee Plourde says the ways in which we seek status today are far removed from that of our ancestors.

"Looking for Meaning Through Material Consumption" (02:57)

Professionals discuss the feeling of emptiness that cannot be filled through buying more things--but it doesn't stop us. Marketing can affect how we think about ourselves.

Toll on Nature (03:33)

Experts discuss the steps that have led us to disassociate with nature until eventually our only concern is the brands of our products. As long as the economy is growing we turn a blind eye to the elimination of forests, the emptying of life from the oceans and strong nations taking from weak nations.

Designing Sustainable Products (04:17)

Prof. Alastair McIntosh defines sustainability with regards to a species and its environment. Tim Cooper discusses the need for a long term mind-set and "far sighted industry people." We discard things that work when only our interest in them is broken.

Politics of Sustainability (02:14)

Politicians are the epitome of the desire for status and therefore are not likely to offer solutions for correcting a society built on the need for prestige.

"In the Belly of the Beast" (02:21)

Prof. Alastair McIntosh explains why being right in the middle of the consumerism problem gives us the best opportunity to bring about change. See video of riot police in conflict with a crowd of demonstrators.

Changing Our Ideology (03:31)

Aimee Plourde says we've evolved from generations of status-seeking beings and it is not likely we can now disengage the emotional appeal of being thought prestigious. Jonathan Chapman discusses the difference between "having" and "being."

Can We Live Without Expectation? (02:33)

Current ideas for our consumerist, wasteful society are merely a Band-Aid and offer no real solution to "the root cause, our psychology." Alastair McIntosh offers hope that we are in an "inevitable stage of evolution." Prof Geoffrey Miller believes "runaway consumerism is a temporary historical glitch."

Need for Individual Efforts (02:52)

We must first acknowledge our captivity in a consumerist system and that change is needed if we are to save our planet. Alastair McIntosh uses "hippie" terms to describe how we need to get back in tune with ourselves and nature.

Credits: Consumed: Identity and Anxiety in an Age of Plenty (00:60)

Credits: Consumed: Identity and Anxiety in an Age of Plenty

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Consumed: Identity and Anxiety in an Age of Plenty

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



“We’ve all kind of gone collectively psychotic,” says evolutionary psychologist Dr. Geoffrey Miller, whose research deals with consumerism and marketing and their impact on traditional human interaction. Long-standing ways of socializing are not only vanishing, says Miller, but addictions, depression, and other mental health issues are becoming standard aspects of our lives—the direct results of our consumption-based society. This program looks at conclusions drawn by Miller and other thought leaders in response to dramatic cultural and socioeconomic shifts emerging in the 21st century. According to sustainable design expert Tim Cooper, the long-term individual and psychological cost of modern consumerism is relatively small. The environmental cost, on the other hand, could ultimately destroy life as we know it. (52 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL52598

ISBN: 978-1-61753-425-6

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Official Selection, Green Man Festival, 2011

Recommended by Video Librarian and Science Books & Films.

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.