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The Diderot Effect illustration: As two residents admire the brand new sofa they've brought into their living room, they remark how it now shows up the old rug and the old lamp and the old curtains. Oh dear.

The Diderot Effect

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, but he 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.

Also see: The Diderot effect, The Streisand effect

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