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Tim Kasser


Tim Kasser

Emeritus Professor of Psychology

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401


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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Emeritus Professor of Psychology

Tim Kasser

General Interests
"My primary interest concerns people's values and goals, and how they relate to quality of life. Over the last decade I have been especially focused on studying 'materialistic values,' i.e., being wealthy, having many possessions, being attractive, and being popular.

My colleagues and I have found that when people believe materialistic values are important, they report less happiness and more distress, have poorer interpersonal relationships, contribute less to the community, and engage in more ecologically damaging behaviors. My research has recently been investigating how values relate to well-being in various nations around the world, as well as what leads some people to become especially focused on different types of values."

Years at Knox: 1995 to 2019.

Ph.D., Psychology, 1994, University of Rochester.
M.A., Psychology, 1990, University of Rochester.
B.A., Psychology with Honors, summa cum laude, 1988, Vanderbilt University.

Teaching Interests
Personality, dreaming, Clinical and Abnormal Psychology, alternatives to consumerism.

Tim Kasser's Website

Full Curriculum Vitae - (PDF)

Selected Professional Accomplishments


  • Associate Editor at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2006-2009 and at American Psychologist in 2015.
  • Faculty Achievement Award, 2015.
  • Primary Investigator of a grant from the Marjorie Weil and Marvin Edward Mitchell Foundation: "How Can Families Help Children Develop Healthy Financial Habits?", 2007.
  • ESRC-SSRC Collaborative Visiting Fellowship, University of Surrey, UK, 2007.
  • Distinguished Research Fellow for "Substantial Research Contributing to a Better Understanding of Quality of Life Issues," from the International Society for Quality of Life Studies, 2003.
  • CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book, for The High Price of Materialism, American Library Association, 2002. 
  • Philip Green Wright / Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching, 2000.

Costanza, R., Atkins, P. W. B., Bolton, M. Cork, S., Grigg, N. J., Kasser, T., & Kubiszewski, I. (2017a). "Overcoming societal addictions: What can we learn from individual therapies?" Ecological Economics 131 (2017): 543-550.

Costanza, R., Atkins, P. W. B., Bolton, M. Cork, S., Grigg, N. J., Kasser, T., & Kubiszewski, "Societal addiction therapy: From Motivational Interviewing to Community Engaged Scenario Planning," Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 26 (2017): 47-53.

Kasser, T. "Living both well and sustainably: A review of the literature, with some reflections on future research, interventions, and policy," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Physical, Mathematical, and Engineering Sciences, 375 (2017).

Brown, K. W., Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M., & Konow, J., "Materialism, spending, and affect: An event-sampling study of marketplace behavior and its affective costs," Journal of Happiness Studies 17 (2016): 2277-2292.

"Perceptions Matter: The Common Cause UK Values Survey." London, UK: Common Cause Foundation, 2016

"Materialistic values and goals," Annual Review of Psychology 67 (2016): 489-514.

"Materialistic values and well-being: Problems and policy," In Policies for Happiness , edited by S. Bartolini, E. Bilancini, L. Bruni, & P. L. Porta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016

Kasser, T. & Linn, S. "Growing up under corporate capitalism: The problem of marketing to children, with suggestions for policy solutions," Social Issues and Policy Review 10 (2016): 122-150.

Crompton, T., Weinstein, N., Sanderson, B., Kasser, T., Maio, G., & Henderson, S. "No cause is an island: How people are influenced by values regardless of the cause." Common Cause Foundation, 2014.

Dittmar, H., Bond, R., Hurst, M., & Kasser, T., "The relationship between materialism and personal well-being: A meta-analysis." Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 107(2014); 879-924.

"A values-based set of solutions for the next generation." In R. Costanza & I Kubiszewski, Eds., Creating a sustainable and desirable future: Insights from 45 global thought leaders (pp. 331-340). Singapore: World Scientific, 2014.

"Teaching about values and goals: Applications of the circumplex model to motivation, well-being, and prosocial behavior." Teaching of Psychology, 41(2014): 365-371.

Kasser, T., Rosenblum, K. L., Sameroff, A. J., Deci, E. L., Niemiec, C. P., Ryan, R. M., Arnadottir, O., Bond, R., Dittmar, H., Dungan, N., & Hawks, S. "Changes in materialism, changes in psychological well-being: Evidence from three longitudinal studies and an intervention experiment." Motivation & Emotion 38 (2014): 1-22.

Smith, L. M., & Kasser, T. "Mortality salience increases defensive distancing from people with terminal cancer," Death Studies 38 (2014): 44-53.

"The Relationship Between Materialistic Values and Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: A meta-analysis," (with Hurst, M., Dittmar, H., Bond, R.). Journal of
Environmental Psychology, 36: 257-269.

"The Potential of Engagement in Arts & Culture to Encourage Values that Support Well-Being, Social Justice, and Ecological Sustainability." In The art of life:
Understanding how participation in arts and culture can affect our values, London, UK 2013: 8-12.

"The Pleasure Paradox: A Psychologist Rediscovers the Thrill of Research." PrintersRow/Chicago Tribune, July 26: 18-19.

"The Deadline Script in Environmental Communications." Solutions, 4 (4): 1.

"Venturing out of Reductionism: Taking a Deeper Look Through John Lennon's "Lucy." Personality and Social Psychology Connections, December 3.

"Instruction in Problem-Solving Skills Increases the Hedonic Balance of Highly Neurotic Individuals," (with Stillmaker, J.) Cognitive Therapy and Research, 37: 380-

"Generational Changes in Materialism and Work Centrality, 1976-2007: Associations with Temporal changes in Societal Insecurity and Materialistic Role-
Modeling," (with Twenge, J.M.). Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39: 883-897.

Kasser, T. Lucy in the mind of Lennon. New York, NY: Oxford University Press (2013).

"Instruction in problem-solving skills increases the hedonic balance of highly neurotic individuals." Co-authored with Knox student Jaclyn Stillmaker '11. Cognitive Therapy and Research 37 (2013): 380-382.

"Values and the next generation." Solutions 3 (2012): 119-124.

"Differences in life satisfaction and school satisfaction among adolescents from three nations: The role of perceived autonomy support." Co-authored with S. Jahng and Knox student, Yuna Ferguson '04. Journal of Research on Adolescence 21 (2011): 649-661.

"Americans recommend smaller ecological footprints when reminded of intrinsic American values of self-expression, family, and generosity." Co-authored with K.M. Sheldon and C.P. Nichols. Ecopsychology 3 (2011): 97-104.

"Capitalism and autonomy." Edited by V.I. Chirkov, R.M. Ryan, and K.M. Sheldon. Human Autonomy in Cross-cultural Context: Perspectives on the Psychology of Agency, Freedom, and Well-being. Dordrecht: Springer (2011).

"Cultural Values and the Well-Being of Future Generations: A Cross-National Study." Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology 42 (2011): 206-215.

"Human Identity: A Missing Link in Environmental Campaigning." Crompton, T. and Kasser, T. Environment: Science & Policy for Sustainable Development 52 (2010): 23-33.

"Psychological Need Satisfaction, Personal Well-Being, and Ecological Sustainability." Ecopsychology (2010): 175-180.

Meeting Environmental Challenges: The Role of Human Identity. Co-authored with Crompton, T., & Goldalming, UK: WWK-UK, (2009).

"Shifting Values in Response to Climate Change." Edited by R. Engelman, M. Renner, & J. Sawin. In 2009 State of the World: Into a Warming World. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009.

"Time Affluence as a Path Towards Personal Happiness and Ethical Business Practices: Empirical Evidence from Four Studies." Co-authored with K.M. Sheldon. Journal of Business Ethics 84 (2009): 243-255.

"When What One Has Is Enough: Mindfulness, Financial Desire Discrepancy, and Subjective Well-Being." Co-authored with Brown, K.W., Ryan, R. M., Linley, P. A., & Orzech, K. Journal of Research in Personality 43 (2009): 727-736.

"Some Benefits of Being an Activist: Measuring Activism and its Role in Psychological Well-Being." Co-authored with Klar, M. Political Psychology 30 (2009): 755-777.

"Psychological Threat and Extrinsic Goal Striving." Co-authored with K.M. Sheldon. Motivation and Emotion 32 (2008): 37-45.

"Some Costs of American Corporate Capitalism: A Psychological Exploration of Value and Goal Conflicts." Co-authored with S. Cohn, A. Kanner, and R. Ryan. Psychological Inquiry 18 (2007): 1-22.

"Materialism and Its Alternatives." Edited by M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. S. Csikszentmihalyi. A Life Worth Living: Contributions to Positive Psychology: 200-214, Oxford University Press, 2006.

"Guns, Testosterone, and Aggression: An Experimental Test of a Mediational Model." Co-authored with Knox student J. Klinesmith '05 and F. T. McAndrew. Psychological Science 17 (2006): 568-571.

"Does Autonomy Increase with Age? Comparing the Goal Motivations of College Students and Their Parents." Coauthored with K. M. Sheldon and L. Houser-Marko. Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006): 168-178.

"Are Psychological and Ecological Well-being Compatible? The Role of Values, Mindfulness, and Lifestyle." Co-authored with K.W. Brown. Social Indicators Research 74 (2005): 349-368.

"The Structure of Goal Contents Across 15 Cultures." Co-authored with A. Ahuvia, J.M. Fernandez-Dols, F.M.E. Grouzet, Y. Kim, S. Lau, R.M. Ryan, S. Saunders, P. Schmuck, and K.M. Sheldon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 89 (2005): 800-816.

"Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety?" Co-authored with Knox student Nancy Curry '04. Art Therapy 22 (2005): 81-85.

"Frugality, Generosity, and Materialism in Children and Adolescents." Edited by Kristin Moore and Laura Lippman. What do Children Need to Flourish?: Conceptualizing and Measuring Indicators of Positive Development. New York: Springer, 2005.

"Why Do Adolescent Girls Idolize Male Celebrities?" Co-authored with Knox student Yuna Engle '04. Journal of Adolescent Research 20 (2005): 263-283.

Psychology and Consumer Culture: The Struggle for a Good Life in a Materialistic World. Co-edited with A.D. Kanner. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association (2004.)

"The Good Life or the Goods Life? Positive Psychology and Personal Well-Being in the Culture of Consumption." Positive Psychology in Practice. Edited by P.A. Linley and S. Joseph. New York: Wiley (2004.)

"The Independent Effects of Goal Contents and Motives on Well-being: It's Both What You Do and Why You Do It." Co-authored with K.M. Sheldon, R.M. Ryan, and E.L. Deci. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 30 (2004): 475-486.

"On Time, Happiness, and Ecological Footprints." Co-authored with K.W. Brown. Take Back Your Time!: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America. Edited by J. DeGraaf. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2003.)

"Self-concept, Aspirations, and Well-being in South Korea and the United States." Co-authored with Y. Kim and H. Lee. Journal of Social Psychology 143 (2003): 277-290.

The High Price of Materialism. Cambridge, M.A.: MIT Press (2002.)

"Sketches for a Self-Determination Theory of Values." Handbook of Self-Determination Research. Edited by E.L. Deci and R.M. Ryan. Rochester: University of Rochester Press (2002.)

"Materialistic Values and Well-being in Business Students." Co-authored with A. Ahuvia. In European Journal of Social Psychology 32 (2002): 137-146.

"The Dreams of People High and Low in Materialism." Co-authored with V.G. Kasser. Journal of Economic Psychology 22 (2001): 693-719.

"Goals, Congruence, and Positive Well-being: New Empirical Support for Humanistic Theories." Co-authored with Ken Sheldon. Journal of Humanistic Psychology 41 (2001): 30-50.

"What is Satisfying about Satisfying Experiences?" Co-authored with K. Sheldon, A. Elliot and Y. Kim. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 80 (2001): 325-339.

"Of Wealth and Death: Materialism, Mortality Salience, and Consumption Behavior." Co-authored with K.M. Sheldon. Psychological Science 11 (2000): 352-355.

"Reproductive Freedom, Educational Equality, and Females' Preference for Resource Acquisition Characteristics in Mates." Co-authored with Knox student Yadika Sharma '97. Psychological Science 10 (1999): 374-377.

"Pursuing Personal Goals: Skills Enable Progress, but Not All Progress is Beneficial." Co-authored with K.M. Sheldon. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 24 (1998): 1319-1331.

"Living both well and sustainably: Research insights and policy suggestions," GLAMURS Conference in Brussels, Belgium. December 2016.

"Capitalism, materialistic values, and quality of life: An empirical, psychological approach," at Corvinus University, University of Kaposvar, Semmelweis University, and University of Debrecen, Hungary. December 2016.

"Values & Goals," Semmelweis University, Hungary. December 2016.

"Growing up under Consumerism: Effects on Children's Values and Well-being," Parbeszed Haza, Hungary. December 2016.

"Values, Communications, and Campaigning," graduate level seminar on Ethics for the Anthropocene at York University in Canada and graduate level seminar, Antioch University, New. October 2016. for a graduate level seminar at Antioch University, Keene, NH. October 2016.

"Communicating about Climate Change: Why Values Matter," Galesburg Sustainable Business Center. October 2016.

"Values and caring for others: A view from psychological science," Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. September 2016.

"The Good life or the Goods life? Using the science of values to live well together," Yale University/National University of Singapore. August 2016.

"The good life or the goods life? Using the science of values to live well together," Institute of Noetic Sciences - Quad Cities, Davenport, IA. July 2016.

"Communicating about Climate Change: Why Values Matter," Global Warming Solutions Group, Peoria, IL. April 2016.

"A Values-based, Psychological Theory of Change for Alternative Measures of Progress," graduate-level class on Ecological Design at Schumacher College, Totnes, UK. March 2016.

"Goal and Value Circumplex Models: An Overview," Social area of the Psychology Department at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, January 2014.

"Human Identity and Environmental Challenges: The Psychology of Sustainability." Forum sponsored Office of Campus Energy & Sustainability at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL, February 2014.

"A Values-based Approach to Campaigns and Communications," Diets and Behavior Change, sponsored by the Food Climate Research Network in London, UK, February 2014.

"Consumerism, Society and our Ecological Future," Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE) Speakers Series, University of Illinois at Springfield, April 2014.

"Consumer Capitalism, Materialistic Values, and Children's Well-being," 4th Psychology in Service of Family Conference at the University of Gdansk, Poland, April 2014.

"Materialism and well-being: Meta-analytic results" as part of a symposium on "Recent Advances in Materialism Research" at the 86th Annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL, May 2014.

"The good life or the goods life: Using the Science of values to Live Well Together" and the workshop was titled "Using the Science of values to Live Well Together: A fuller, practical discussion." 2nd Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology in Ottawa, Canada, July 2014.

"A Scientific, Psychological Perspective on Values-Based Approaches to Financial Planning" and "A Scientific, Psychological Perspective on How the Relationship Between Financial Planner and Client Can Catalyze Change and High-Quality Motivation." 2014 Money Quotient Retreat, Suquamish, WA, Sept. 2014.

"A Values-based, Psychological Theory of Change for Alternative Measures of Progress." Happiness Alliance, Seattle, WA, Sept. 2014.

"Consumerism, Society and our Ecological Future: A psychological, empirical approach," Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; Australian National University and the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, Canberra, Australia; Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology-Sydney, Sydney, Australia, Sept. 2014.

"A Scientific, Psychological Perspective on Voluntary Simplicity." Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, Sept. 2014.

"Ethics in Advertising," Agency, a creative studio in Sydney that works for social change, Sydney, Australia, Sept. 2014.

"Materialism, well-being, and ecological sustainability: Meta- analytic results and implications for consumer capitalism" at the University of Melbourne's Department of Business and Marketing, and "Changes in materialism, changes in well-being," Department of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, Sept. 2014.

"The Good Life or the Goods Life? Using the Science of Values to Live Well Together" and facilitating a workshop on "Using the Science of Values to Live Well Together: A Fuller Practical Discussion," 7th Australian and New Zealand Conference of the Association of Contextual and Behavioural Sciences, Mooloolaba, New Zealand, October 2014.

"Capitalism, values, and quality of life: An empirical, psychological approach," Psychology and Political Science Departments, SUNY- Geneseo, Geneseo, NY, November, 2014.

"Children, Values, and Consumer Culture." Association Montessori International -USA 2013 Refresher Course. Tampa, FL, February 2013.

"Using the Science of Values to Improve Children's Lives" and "Having Difficult Discussions About the Commercialization of Childhood." 8th International
Consuming Kids Summit. Boston, MA, March 2013.

"The Role of Heritage Language Use in Ethnic Identity in Asian-Indian Adolescents," (co-authored with Aparna Kumar). 2013 Biennial Meeting of the
Society for Research in Child Development. Seattle, WA, April 2013.

"Children, Values, and Consumer Culture." You & I Montessori School. Redwood City, CA, May 2013.

"Materialism and Well-being: A Meta-analysis." 5th International Conference on Self-determination Theory. Rochester, NY, June 2013. Supported by the Knox Conference Travel Fund.

"Values and Caring for Others: A View from Psychological Science." D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership, Viterbo University. LaCrosse, WI, November 2013.

"A Scientific Approach to Understanding the Meaning of a Song: The case of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium,
Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI, November 2013.

"The Psychology of John Lennon." Amherst College, Amherst, MA, December 2013.

"Human Identity and Environmental Challenges." Keynote at the NARST Annual International Conference in Orlando, Florida, and another Keynote at Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 2011.

"Values and Environmental Sustainability: A view from the psychological literature." Conference on Ethics and Sustainability, Pennsylvania State University, 2011.

"Values & the Great Transition: A View from the Psychological Literature." Keynote at the Smart CSOs conference, London, UK, 2011.

"Capitalism, Values, and Quality of Life: An Empirical, Psychological Approach." Keynote Lecture, Activism and Spirituality Conference, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas, 2010.

"Human Identity and Environmental Challenges." Virtual Talk, Solutions Seminar Series, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 2010.

"Consumerism, Values, and Quality of Life: A Psychological Approach." Presentation, Continuum Design Firm, Boston, Massachusetts, 2010.

"Materialistic Values and Children's Quality of Life." Keynote Talk, Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood's Bi-Annual Summit, Boston, Massachusetts, 2010.

"Obstacles to Healthy Self-Development in Consumer Capitalistic Cultures." Virtual Talk, Pszinapszis, Psychology Days, Budapest Hungary, 2010.

"Values, Time, and Quality of Life: A View from Psychology." Invited Talk, Conference on Balanced Lives: Best Policies for the New Economy, sponsored by the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa, Iowa, 2010.

"Human Identity and Environmental Challenges." MILEN International Conference on visions and strategies to address sustainable energy and climate change. University of Oslo, Norway, 2010.

"Values and Campaigning." Keynote Speaker, Common Cause Workshop in London, sponsored by a group of environmental and development NGOs, London, UK, 2010.

"A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Goals and Values: Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Aspirations." Talk at the 1st conference for the Society for the Study of Motivation, in Chicago, Illinois, 2008.

"A Revolution of Values: Psychological Research on Materialism and its Alternatives." Keynote banquet speaker, 56th Annual Conference of the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 2008.

"Transport in an Oil and Climate Constrained World" and "Beyond Growth: Well-being in a Low Carbon Economy." Talks given at the Labour & the Conservative Party Fringe Conferences in the UK, 2008.

"Can Buddhism and Consumerism Harmonize? A Review of the Psychological Evidence." Invited talk at the International Conference on Buddhism in the Age of Consumerism at the College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University, Nakornpathom, Thailand, 2008.

"Values, Happiness, and the Environment." Seminar for the Quad-Cities Sierra Club, Moline, Illinois, 2007.

"Materialism and its Alternatives." Keynote speaker at the 22nd Annual University of Scranton Psychology Conference, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 2007.

"The Good Life or The Goods Life? Psychological Explorations of Values and Well-being." Invited speaker in The Humanities Project's series on Nature and Pursuit of Happiness at the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, 2007.

"A Revolution of Values: Materialism and its Alternatives." Invited Keynote at the International Conference on Policies for Happiness, Siena, Italy, 2007.

"Materialism and its Alternatives." Invited Keynote at the Brown Symposium XXVII, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, 2007.

"The Ethics of Marketing to Children" and "Is Ethical Business Possible? Perspectives from materialism research." Invited talks at Temple University's Fox School of Business, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2006.

"Materialism and its Alternatives: The Science of Human Flourishing." Leona E. Tyler Lecture in Individual Differences at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 2006.

"Materialism and its Alternatives." University of Sussex, University of Bristol (both in the UK) and at Pazmany Peter Catholic University and the University of Vesgpiem (both in Hungary), 2005.

"Material and Time Affluence as Predictors of Well-Being." University of Exeter (UK) and at Eotvos Landos University (Hungary), 2005.

"The Costs of Capitalism: How Materialism Diminishes Quality of Life." Corvinus University (Hungary), 2005.

"Personal Aspirations and Quality of Life." Semmelweis University (Hungary), 2005.

Campus & Community Involvement

  • Member, Knox College Presidential Task Force on Sustainability.
  • Chair, Psychology Department.
  • Consulting editor, Psychological Inquiry.
  • Board member, Center for a New American Dream.
  • Steering Committee member, Campaign for a Commercial Free-Childhood.

What Students Say
"Tim Kasser is a challenging professor and a great person. He is always more than willing to help any student who needs his help, as long as the student is willing to ask for help. Tim treats his students like adults and expects the same type of respect and consideration. He knows how to apply his knowledge to real world examples to help his students learn and understand."
-Rhonda Moravek, Psychology Major

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Printed on Saturday, June 15, 2024