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Use the Diderot Effect to your advantage


The Diderot Effect mentions that when you buy one item of superior quality, you feel the need to upgrade the other items. This causes a spiral of addictive buying and spending our money mindlessly. Here is a famous story explaining the Diderot Effect.

There was a french philosopher, Denis Diderot. He wasn’t wealthy, and his daughter was about to get married. However, he was passionate about his work and created the encyclopedié. Catherine, the Great was impressed by his work and offered to buy his library for £1,000 ($150k today). This made him wealthy, and he managed to pay for his daughter’s wedding.

He then purchased a scarlet robe. After that, he began feeling the need to upgrade his other possessions to the same level as the scarlet robe. Like falling dominoes, one purchase led to the next.

Although the outcome of the Diderot Effect wasn’t good, we can use this method to our advantage. We can use it to build positive habits.

How to use this Effect to your advantage:

  • Next time you want to develop a new habit, stack it after a current one.
  • Here’s the habit stacking formula, as stated in Atomic Habits by James Clear: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
  • For example, if you develop the habit of going to the gym every morning, you can stack that with meditating after your gym session.

Using the Diderot Effect to your benefit can help you stack multiple good habits over the other. It teaches us that no matter what the concept, we can turn it into positive learnings.

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