Leading Expert on Consumer Behavior, James A. Roberts, Examines our Obsessions With Possessions in New Book, 'Shiny Objects'

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In SHINY OBJECTS, consumer behavior expert James A. Roberts takes us on a tour of America’s obsession with consumerism—pointing out its symptoms, diagnosing specific problems, and offering a series of groundbreaking solutions. Roberts offers practical, helpful advice for how to correct the materialistic trends in our lives, trends that lock us into a cycle of stress and financial hardship.

Jacket Image - Shiny Objects by James A. Roberts

SHINY OBJECTS: Why We Spend Money We Don't Have in Search of Happiness We Can't Buy

Shiny Objects sheds some much-needed light on the science of spending, and demonstrates how we can cultivate lives of real value.

70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Over 1.5 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and by early 2011, the average American household carried nearly $10,000 in credit card debt. And yet we throw away 150 million cell phones each year and spend over $41 billion annually on our pets.

In Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy (HarperOne; November 2011; $25.99; ISBN 9780062093608), James A. Roberts, a leading researcher and expert on consumer behavior, exposes the hidden motivations and erroneous assumptions behind our spending habits. He also reveals the key to reversing the devastating and ever-increasing effects of materialism in modern culture, showing readers how we can actually increase our well-being by scaling back.

In addition, Roberts poses important questions like:

  •     Do you have an emergency fund of at least $2500 for that proverbial rainy day?
  •     Do you have at least six months’ worth of living expenses in the bank in case you lose your job or become ill?
  •     Are you regularly making investments to a retirement account?

If the answer is no to any of these, Shiny Objects offers the lessons needed to change spending habits and develop smarter saving strategies. With a series of quizzes and questionnaires developed over years of consumer research—and full of staggering new research on credit card abuse and compulsive shopping—Shiny Objects will help readers examine their day-to-day behavior, offering tips and tools to make the necessary changes.

A perfect antidote to the fiscal anxiety that’s been sweeping the nation—and out just in time for the holiday shopping season—Shiny Objects sheds some much-needed light on the science of spending, and demonstrates how we can cultivate lives of real value.

About the Author
James Roberts is a Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he has been a faculty member since 1991. His research on compulsive buying, credit card abuse, and the way that materialism affects our quality of life has been featured on ABC World News Tonight and National Public Radio, and in The New York Times, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan. Dr. Roberts is a nationally recognized expert on consumer behavior and is quoted frequently in the media.


“Roberts’s inquiry provides ample psychological and historical insights, but the book’s most valuable and unique feature is the quizzes included in each chapter. These opportunities for self-assessment—on how much we spend, how vulnerable we are to status anxiety—give readers ‘time, space and motivation’ to examine our own relationships toward consumer culture and personal happiness. An intriguing cultural history–cum–self-help book with abundant hard scientific data.” – Publishers Weekly

“Shiny Objects is a superb explanation of how, why, and when Americans became obsessed with consumption. This book is both entertaining and thought-provoking as it forces the reader to confront his or her own views and values. For that reason alone, it is worth its weight in gold.”
— Jim Randel, author of The Skinny on Willpower: How to Develop Self-Discipline

“Without shying away from the unpopular truth, Roberts encourages us to step back, notice, and yes, even laugh at our obsession with shiny objects. Important research findings and Practical exercises help us embrace our values and understand that we can never get enough of what we don’t really need.” — April Lane Benson, Ph.D.,
author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop

“Roberts has done an exquisite job of compiling the scientific research on consumer behavior. Shiny Objects showcases the negative impact of materialism, but it is also about remedies. Roberts is to be highly commended for his brilliance and helpful insights as we, as individuals and as a nation, struggle to maintain a sustainable economy.”
— M. Joseph Sirgy, author of The Psychology of Quality of Life

Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy

by James Roberts
HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
November 2011 | $25.99 | Hardcover | ISBN: 9780062093608


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