Coined after the French philosopher Denis Diderot’s remarkably titled essay “Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown”.
The gist of the effect is that we generally surround ourselves with objects that fit our current sense of identity. If we get something that doesn’t fit that identity we may find ourselves replacing the rest to match the new identity.
Poor Diderot was given a fancy new dressing gown and ended up replacing most of his possessions and ultimately living in poverty, to paraphrase a little.
The Diderot Effect was introduced by Grant McCracken, and I learned about it, once again, from Atomic Habits. Diderot also played a key role in the development of the encyclopedia as I learned from Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo,
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