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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Psychology of Collecting

Collecting is one of the oldest activities of mankind, beginning as early as 2,000 years ago in Egypt and continuing up until today when millions of people all over the world collect different items covering an enormous range of fields.

Today the field of collecting includes the standard collections such as stamps, coins, comics, postcards and trading cards etc., and the more peculiar collections such as empty toothpastes, Aladdin lamps, beer coasters, antique telephones and more.

Collectors range from different cultures and from all ages, all similarly devoting a large amount of time, resources and energy to this hobby. 

Understanding the motivation of collectors, is not only a fascinating aspect in the psychology field, but could also bring an important awareness to collectors, making their collecting activity a more pleasant and a satisfying one. 

The desire to collect begins at birth. The infant's favorite toys are brought to bed to provide an emotional security. The sense of control and ownership is facilitated through the possession of different objects. Freud took a very extreme position on the origins of collecting and postulated that all collecting stems were linked to the anal retentive stage in childhood. Frued suggested that collecting ties back to the time of toilet training and that the loss of control and what went down the toilet was a traumatic occurrence. Therefore, the collector is trying to gain back not only control but “possessions” that were lost many years ago.

Muensterberger, on the other hand, believed collecting to be a "need-driven compensatory behavior where every new object effectively gives the notion of fantasized omnipotence." Jung argued that collecting and completing sets have archetypal antecedents of the collecting of "nuts and berries" once needed for survival by our early ancestors.

According to Mark B. McKinley, Ed.D., a professor of psychology at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, for some people collecting is simply the quest, in some cases a life-long pursuit that is never complete. Additional collector motivations include psychological security, filling a void in a sense of self or it could be to claim a means to distinction. According to McKinley, for some, the satisfaction comes from experimenting with arranging, re-arranging, and classifying parts of a-big-world-out-there, which can serve as a means of control to elicit a comfort zone in one’s life. The motives are not mutually exclusive, as certainly many motives can combine to create a collector.

While some collectors have a more dark side in their collecting activity or are commercially motivated in buying and selling their collectible, most of the collectors are emotionally driven with the positive aspects associated with this hobby. According to M. Baker, an author of autograph collectibles books, most of the autograph collectors are emotionally driven with no intentions to sell their collections. The thrill of the chase, seeing who will sign that day and actually meet in person the people signing are all a great motivation for this activity. 

As long as collecting does not become an addictive activity, it is mostly associated with positive emotions that could bring a great satisfaction and joy to the collector. The excitement of finding new collectibles, the social activity involved and the bond that is could bring with family members are all important factors that make it such a popular hobby. 

About the Author:
One of the great sources to your collecting activity is where you can buy, sell, exchange and catalog your collection or simply review collections of other collectors. You can also become a member of the sites growing collectors community, connect with other similar collectors exchange collectibles and ideas.

1 comment:

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