ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (11): 2043-2061.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.02043

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


陈斯允1(), 卫海英1,2(), 熊继伟1, 冉雅璇3   

  1. 1暨南大学管理学院, 广州 510632
    2广州品牌创新发展研究基地, 广州 510632
    3中南财经政法大学工商管理学院, 武汉 430073
  • 收稿日期:2021-01-18 出版日期:2021-11-15 发布日期:2021-09-23
  • 通讯作者: 陈斯允,卫海英;
  • 基金资助:

Less is more: A theoretical interpretation of minimalism in consumption

CHEN Siyun1(), WEI Haiying1,2(), XIONG Jiwei1, RAN Yaxuan3   

  1. 1School of Management, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
    2Research Institute on Brand Innovation and Development of Guangzhou, Guangzhou 510632, China
    3School of Business Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan 430073, China
  • Received:2021-01-18 Online:2021-11-15 Published:2021-09-23
  • Contact: CHEN Siyun,WEI Haiying;


随着经济社会的不断发展与物质生活的日益丰富, 一股消费“清流”——极简主义消费愈来愈受到学界和业界的共同关注。极简主义消费是人们出于社会意识或个人理念而自发采取的一种“从简”式消费行为, 覆盖个人、社会和自然各个层面。受人口变量、心理特质、情境线索和宗教文化等因素驱动, 极简主义消费对个体心理健康与行为决策产生重要影响。基本价值理论、自我决定理论、需求层次理论和自我调节理论是认识和理解极简主义消费形成路径与影响机制的重要理论视角。未来研究可进一步厘清极简主义消费的构念与维度内涵, 采用科学流程开发测量工具, 深化本土化和跨文化研究, 并从多元理论视角, 综合运用不同实证方法, 深入探索其前因后效、心理机制和边界条件。

关键词: 极简主义消费, 可持续消费, 责任性消费, 自我决定, 幸福感


Minimalism refers to a lifestyle that seeks satisfaction in a non-material world by reducing consumption. Given the increasing popularity of minimalistic consumption (i.e., voluntary simplicity), it is necessary to understand minimalism more comprehensively. First, we provide a categorization scheme related voluntary simplicity, including its conception, dimensions, and measurements. Characterized by a minimal, simple, and responsible lifestyle, minimalism can be defined as the degree to which consumers select a lifestyle to minimalize their consumption and to take control of their life. The practice of simplified living typically entails minimizing possessions, consuming less, and valuing personal growth.
Then, factors that influence minimalistic consumption are presented. The reasons for individuals to adopt simplifying behaviors are manifold. That is, motivations for engaging minimalistic consumption are multifaceted and complicated, including both internal (i.e., personal, financial, lifestyle) and external (i.e., economic, social, environmental) motivations. In addition to consumers who curtail their consumption due to financial restraints, there are consumers who consciously consume, although they are financially well off. The rejection of the concept that one’s success is determined by his/her material goods (i.e., materialism) has prompted interest in minimalistic consumption. In addition, some simplifiers (i.e., minimalistic consumers) are driven by motives of environmental sustainability. That is, when consumers give greater consideration to the natural environment and ecological system, they may engage in voluntary simplicity to live both well and sustainably. Furthermore, people can lead an independent and self-determined life through minimalistic consumption; therefore, a desire to achieve an autonomous life is an important antecedent of minimalistic consumption. Moreover, philosophical motivation (i.e., religious belief) is another factor driving minimalism in consumption.
Moving forward, the potential impacts of minimalistic behavior are shown. Minimalism has a positive influence on individual, societal and environmental wellbeing. Adopting low consumption helps expand mental space, resulting in a feeling of lightness, relaxation, and clarity. A minimalistic lifestyle facilitates individuals’ positive emotions while reducing their negative emotions such as depression. Consumers can also reduce their dependence on the market offerings by curtailing the overall consumption, in search of a simpler but happier life. Additionally, minimalistic practices offer several wellbeing benefits such as meaning and happiness. In addition, a minimalistic lifestyle can improve harmony in communities, as it can help build more connections with others in society. By sharing skills, donating to charities or giving back to the community, simplifiers can experience a sense of community and closeness to others, thus enhancing communal well-being. More importantly, most literature notes that this lifestyle is positively associated with environmental and ecological wellbeing. With a strong ecological awareness, consumers tend to protect the environment through a variety of practices, such as decreasing carbon emissions, avoiding excess packaging, and preserving resources and habitats. Collectively, we categorize antecedents of minimalistic consumption into four types (i.e., demographic, psychological, situational, religious factors). We also summarize the effects of minimalistic consumption in the previous research, such as enhancing happiness and sense of meaning.
In order to understand voluntary simplicity, four theories (i.e., theory of basic values, self-determination theory; hierarchical theory of needs; self-regulation theory) were introduced. By combining these theories, we shed a novel light on understanding the forming process of minimalistic consumption. Specifically, in self-observation stages, individuals generate self-directed values. Based on these values, consumers make judgments whether their needs are satisfied. Lastly, in the self-reaction phase, consumers adopt the results of these judgments, and they evaluate achieve autonomy, competence and relevance from the self-determination theory. Given the important role of minimalistic consumption in the contemporary marketplace, it is essential for both marketers and scholars to know more details in simplifying practices. Several directions (e.g., developing valid measurements, taking cultural differences into account, identifying boundary conditions) for future research are discussed.

Key words: voluntary simplicity, sustainable consumption, conscious consumption, self-determination, well-being