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The Need to Collect


Explanations > Needs > The Need to Collect

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?




Humans have a curious need to collect things. Think about people who collect cards, dolls, antiques and so on. Sometimes the collected item is of use, but often the only benefit is the pleasure of adding to one's collection.

When we collect things, finding new items to add to our collection and gaining a complete set is particularly satisfying.


Collecting stamps has little purpose other than for the collector.

People collect autographs as a way of connecting with their heroes.

The first ever customer on eBay bought a broken laser pointer - because he collected them.

Related to


Part of Related to
Control, Possess Novelty



Collecting can be like hunting. Much pleasure can be gained in searching for new items to collect, with delight as each is found and pride in having a complete set. Collection sets often have nonlinear availability. Some items (possibly the majority) are cheap and easy to acquire, while others are rare and expensive.

Scarcity is a significant principle here. Collecting things which are easy to find is not as satisfying as finding that rare item in some out-of-the-way shop, especially if you can pick it up for a bargain price.

Evolutionary origins seem likely to be around hoarding food, kindling and other necessities to survive winter, drought or other periods of limited resources. Animals also hoard, and we talk about 'squirreling away' things.

Collection can be a solitary hobby but many collectors use it as a way socialize. Collectors of each item have their own magazines, conferences and so on. They make friends, show off collections, and buy and sell to one another.

There is much money to be made in selling to collectors. Actions may include:

  • Marketing a set of items as being desirable and collectable.
  • Creating and growing a community of collectors.
  • Spreading passion about collecting, such as in a blog.
  • Dealing in new and second-hand items.
  • Organizing conventions and other meetings.

So what?

Offer people ways to collect things. Show that what you offer is rare and desirable. Give them a part of the set, a starter to get them going. Then draw them in by making additions increasingly rare and desirable. You can exchange the desired items for significant other things you want from them. The more they want the item, the more you can ask in return.

See also

Consistency Principle, Involvement principle

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