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Skidmore College

Dowd Lecture topic: Capitalism and the quality of life

January 27, 2015
Tim Kasser, Knox College
Tim Kasser

Tim Kasser, psychology professor at Knox College, will discuss “Capitalism, values, and quality of life:  An empirical, psychological approach,” when he presents the Charles N. Dowd Lecture Monday, Feb. 2, at Skidmore College.

Free and open to the public, the talk is scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall.

In Kasser’s view, in order to function smoothly, all societal systems need to encourage certain values in their citizens. He will explain how the American form of corporation capitalism, with its focus on self-interest, competition, consumerism, and financial profit, emphasizes the materialistic, self-enhancing values that are one aspect of the human value system. He will review research showing that where individuals and cultures emphasize these materialistic, self-enhancing values, lower well-being, less pro-social behavior, and more ecological damage occur. Kasser will discuss how to dampen the excesses of American corporate capitalism and pursue healthier alternatives.  

Kasser has written numerous scientific articles and book chapters on materialism, values, ecological sustainability, and quality of life. He is the author of four books: The High Price of Materialism, published in 2002; Psychology and Consumer Culture (co-edited with Allen D. Kanner), 2004; Meeting Environmental Challenges:  The Role of Human Identity (co-authored with Tom Crompton), 2009; and Lucy in the Mind of Lennon, 2013. He works with a variety of activist and civil society organizations that protect children from commercialization, promote ecological sustainability, and encourage a more “inwardly rich” lifestyle than what is offered by consumerism.

Kasser earned a B.A. degree with honors in psychology at Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. degree at the University of Rochester. He has been a member of the faculty of Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., since 1995.

Skidmore’s Dowd Lecture is offered annually by the college’s Department of Psychology for students and the Saratoga Springs community.

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