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It only takes a minute to up. Connect and share knowledge within a single location that is structured and easy to search. There are many examples of people wanting what they don't have. For example, a single man may want to have a girlfriend, but after some time of having a girlfriend, he may want to be single again. Or for example, people in the city may want to live in the village and villagers may want to live in the city. What causes individuals to desire something they don't have and once they have it we desire to have something else -- or something which we left behind a while ago -- again?
The reason for desire or want or liking is Pleasure.
Various people have various things to get pleasure: from Money, from Power, from Love etc. But this pleasure is always based on comparison. For ex: I may have money, power, wealth and love. I am satisfied with all these.
There is no absolute answer to this question 'Why man seeks pleasure? We may need to understand the nature of pleasure, how it occurs etc etc. There is also a philosophical answer to your question which is related to mind. As put by Hindu philosophy, Mind always seeks pleasure. This pleasure, found in external things, is always in the form of self satisfaction. It feels happy with possession of things outside.
But once it turns inward and looks at itself, it understands its nature. This comes out of intelligence. Then it gradually seeks inner calmness rather external cravings. Resting in inner peace and calm is more happier and blissful to Mind. But it is under illusion that it finds pleasure in things in the external world. When there is a separation like this, automatically there is a comparison. When comparison exists, desire sprouts. You better read about mind in Google. Lot of notes and articles are there. As you mentioned, once you have it, you want something else you don't have and on and on and on it goes.
Reason being, once a subject acquires the object longed and desired for, the novelty level within the subject is diminished and must be refilled. To be more specific, what needs to be refilled is dopamine. Novelty produces dopamine and dopamine is well know as the brain's fuel driving satisfaction. So remove that and guess what your going to try to reproduce? Why do we want what we don't have? There are many different answers stemming from diverse theoretical approaches.
I will list a couple, drawing heavily on a older review by Lynn who has collected different ideas about why desirability can sometimes be increased when something is unavailable to us. We perceive things that few people have as important resources that al social status.
This can be seen in people's tendency for conspicuous consumption Veblen,in other words the tendency to buy positional goodswhich promise being superior to others e. Researchers such as Snyder and Fromkin posit that people can perceive similarity to others as a threatening. Therefore, scarce and unavailable things are desirable because they promise to fulfill a need for uniqueness. Unavailable resources often imply that having them means to have power over others Emerson, Social comparisons can give rise to specific emotions that motivate us to seek things that are unavailable.
People deliberately engage in downward comparisons Wills, to enhance their self-esteem. Having something that not everybody has may thus give rise to pride. Sometimes, we don't have things because we are denied to have them.
Such threats to our freedom cause reactance which increases our desire to have what we can't have e. Trying to attain something which is difficult to get increases arousal which fuels desirability Brehm et al, It stands to reason, however, that we are often quite good in rationalizing why we don't want the things that we don't have e. Brehm, J. The attractiveness of an eliminated choice alternative. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2, — Perceived difficulty, energization, and the magnitude of goal valence.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 21— Brock, T. Implications of commodity theory for value change. Greenwald, T. Ostrom Eds. New York: Academic Press. Crusius, J. When people want what others have: The impulsive side of envious desire. Emotion, 12, — Ditto, P. From rarity to evaluative extremity: Effects of prevalence information on evaluations of positive and negative characteristics.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 16— Kay, A. Sour grapes, sweet lemons, and the anticipatory rationalization of the status quo. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, — Lynn, M. The psychology of unavailability: Explaining scarcity and cost effects on value.
Snyder R. Abnormality as a positive characteristic: The development and validation of a scale measuring need for uniqueness. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 86, — Solnick, S. Is more always better? A survey on positional concerns. Van de Ven, N. The envy premium in product evaluation. The Journal of Consumer Research, 37, — Wills, T. Downward comparison principles in social psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 90, — Why we want things is a very broad question.
As to why we specifically want things we don't have, I commented in jest that it does not make sense to want something you already have. As Greg mentioned, there are also many empirical and theories suggesting that, to a point, we seek novelty and stimulation for their own sake. That could be a reason to want things specifically because we don't have them already or at least in part because we don't have them already. The idea is very old and has been expressed in various ways, e.
On the specific point of regret and wanting to go back, one thing is that we are not always good at gauging how we will feel about something we have not experienced yet. Also, the notion that we seek novelty implies that the novel stimulus will become less pleasurable with repetition but the opposite process has also been observed, e.
Most frequently people want a different version of what they already have or have liked in the past. That's why there are countless "clones" of video games, movies and books. Coolidge Effect explains why people devalue past sexual partners over time as in your girlfriend example and seek novel partners instead. Another explanation is that people want whatever spikes their serotonin and dopamine reward systems the most.
In economic terms this can also be defined in terms of marginal utility of a thing, experience etc von Neumann and Morgenstern, Maybe because it's evolutionary fit to strive for the optimal combination to increase pleasure. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. Princeton University Press; up to this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Stack Overflow for Teams — Collaborate and share knowledge with a private group.
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Learn more. Why do people want what they don't have now? Ask Question. Asked 8 years, 2 months ago. Active 1 year, 3 months ago. Viewed 32k times. Improve this question. If you live in the city, there are a lot of things to do, better infrastructure, but no quiet and clean air. In the village, things are reversed. Obviously people want both: quiet, when they feel like quiet, action, when they want action, clean air all the time, and good infrastructure. The underlying cause is that people want both alternatives at the same time. Your question needs examples where alternatives are not the reverse of each other and not balanced regarding dis advantages.
Why you incline to "go back" once you left something because you wanted to have something else. Add a comment. Active Oldest Votes. Improve this answer. Johny T Koshy 9 9 bronze badges. Sai Krishna Sai Krishna 1 1 silver badge 5 5 bronze badges. Please read the answer of Greg McNulty.
Animals that are always in the same state will easier be hunt down than animals that always try new things and adapt. Unavailable resources often imply that having them means to have power over others Emerson, Social comparisons can give rise to specific emotions that motivate us to seek things that are unavailable.Wanting what i don t have
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