Affluenza – Definition

Cite this article as:"Affluenza – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated September 9, 2019, last accessed December 4, 2020,

Back to: Management & Organizational Behavior

Affluenza Definition

Affluenza is a condition which results from a strong desire to be more wealthy or successful. Affluenza is mostly a social condition, and it impairs the possessor’s ability to see the consequences of his actions because of financial privilege and affluence.

A Little More on What is Affluenza

Affluenza is a combination of two words; affluence and influenza. Affluence, in this case, refers to wealth, and influenza refers to a strong desire which blinds people’s eye to the adverse effects of their actions. Affluenza is defined as a culture which upholds materialistic wealth as the ultimate goal of a person, and the biggest achievement one could get in life. Affluenza is a very terrible condition, as persons with this issue can never get satisfaction or be happy in life. People who are affected with this condition set goals which, after achieving, will push one to other goals because they do not gain satisfaction with the former. Thus, even when they’ve managed to pull off strong economic success which others would’ve never imagine achieving in their lifetime, they’ll still feel unfulfilled and wishing they have more. These individuals’ goals can be likened to chasing the wind; they’ll never feel satisfied.

How to Know Someone with Affluenza and the Causes of this Condition

Affluenza is more of a mindset and cannot be treated by medical administration, so the causes might differ in various victims. Most scholars believe that this condition is generally available in persons who believe that happiness can only be acquired by money and that wealth can buy all forms of happiness. Thus, if after amassing a lot they turn out to remain unhappy, they’d tend to chase more money with the belief that what they have is not enough and that is the reason for their sadness. Persons with affluenza finds it hard to align with people from a more modest background, as they don’t have similar thinking. The actions they take to achieve wealth doesn’t matter to them as they have little values when it comes to financial acquisitions. Thus, they tend to see the world from a whole different perspective from what it normally is.

Persons with affluenza also tend to differentiate themselves from others and feel entitled since they feel that all they’ve earned was due to their talent only. This, in turn, breeds a feeling of inequality both in law and in the community at large.

A person with this social condition can easily be identified if he works relentlessly, and his only goal in life is earning money. Also, they tend to have destroyed personal relationships, and this is because their only focus and love is wealth, and do not focus on their partners or their own sanity. Additionally, they tend to attribute everything in life to money, with the belief that they exist for the sole reason of amassing wealth. Last, on our list, these persons have a problem interacting with others as the only thing they’re ever thinking about is wealth, and mind they end up bringing it into an unrelated conversation.

Affluenza and the Law

Affluenza has been used as a defense for crimes in different court cases. An example of the use of this term was a case in December 2013, where a Texas teen killed four pedestrians due to drunk driving. He was acquitted without jail time and only sentenced to 10 years probation after his lawyer stated that he was suffering from affluenza, and could not really comprehend the consequences of his actions. Also, another individual was let off the hook with just six months of jail time after sexually assaulting a female student on campus. The judge stated that an extended jail time would have an adverse effect on the defendant, and this brought up criticism from citizens stating that the sentence was passed due to the defendant’s affluence.

Affluenza in the United States

Affluenza is mostly dominant in nations that economically successful, and that is a top reason why we’ve picked out America due to a large number of wealthy citizens this nation possesses. This is not to say that other countries cannot have persons with this condition. Also, it is important to note that the symptoms are the same everywhere as well as victims’ actions.

If a person has wealthy parents, it is easier to break into the top tier of higher-income earners, than a person from a modest or poor background. Affluenza actually develops in relation to the socio-economic placement of an individual, and this condition appears later in the future. So, first, it develops, then explodes.

Not quite long ago, two Stanford researchers published a study that examined the “intergenerational elasticity” (IE) of American households. In layman terms, the research focused on how much parents’ income affect children’s income in the future. The result was equivalent to 0.5 for males and 0.47 for females, and this meant that parents’ income accounted for half of what their children might get in the future.

However, a study of those in the top 1% and the higher income earners tier showed that parents income accounted for ⅔ of their children’s eventual war or income; thus persons born into this families have a higher tendency of being affluent.

Also, another researcher Richard V. Reeves noted that up to 30% of children for into the top 1% of income earners are likely to remain in that position when they grow up, and another 26% were likely to just drop by a few percentages in the future. He further stated that it is easier to be in the top 1% if you were born into it, than if you were born into a poor background. According to Reeves, white kids who were born into the lower tier had a one in four chance of getting into the top 40% when they become grownups. Also, black kids in this same class had a lesser percentage as studies show that 51% of black kids born into poor families actually remain there in adulthood.

Studies from the team at Stanford also made sure to state that not every sector of the community is influenced by the generation before it. Their study states that females had a lower correlation between their income and that of their parents than males did. This is partly due to the fact that most tend to work lesser than their partners since the partner is making a high income, which is enough to term both of them as wealthy. Also, they stated that the environment also had an effect on social mobility. Research showed that people in higher-income areas such as Salt Lake City and San Jose had higher mobility compared to those in Atlanta and Milwaukee.

Advantage Transmission

Social researchers have quite a number of explanations for what they term the intergenerational transmission of advantage. The first and most important is the educational values which wealthy parents pass on to their kids. Wealth parents tend to have better degrees, and this is most likely to portray them as role models to their kids. Also, these parents will look for a way to get their children into the best colleges, thus affecting their eventual wages.

For instance, 800 students who had been living in Baltimore from infancy to their 20s were tracked by a John Hopkins study. The results showed that only about 4% of kids from lower-income families went ahead to get a college degree, while 45% of those from affluent homes got a college degree. Using these statistics, we can see why rick kids tend to get richer, as persons with a college degree find it easier to secure a job compared to someone who doesn’t have a degree.

Also, according to Reeves, wealthy parents spend more time impacting financial knowledge in their kids, and this helps them to perform successfully in the future. This attention is mostly provided at the child’s early years when it is much needed. Reeves also stated that kids from affluent families hear more words than those from poor families (an average difference of 3 million words), and this affects the vocabulary of the latter in their early school years.

Preventing Affluenza

Affluenza, as we stated before, is not really a medical condition, and thus, a person cannot be diagnosed with it. This condition is as a result of socio-economic cultures, different circumstances, and environmental factors. However, parents can help prevent this condition in their kids.

In recent times, kids have little or no knowledge whatsoever about wealth and finances, so the faster they get to know about it, the better they’ll become at handling financial issues. Also, parents should act as role models to kids, and try to explain as much as possible how they turned out wealthy, so children can follow in their footsteps.

Teach them Proper Money Handling

It is important to set up proper savings account for your kids where you keep the money for them till they become adults. Also, while doing this, imparting knowledge on how to use money into them will do their future selfs a lot of good.

Set Financial Limits

Teach your kids about the consequences of instant gratifications, and set limits to what they can purchase when they’re young. Also, back up these restrictions with reasons why they can’t just satisfy their desires any time they want, as this will help them when they start living on their own.

Don’t Help Them With Debt and Unnecessary Spending

While there are some things you can help your kids with, unnecessary spending shouldn’t be one of those things. If your kid blows up her weekly allowance and wants the latest designer purse, it is expected of you as a parent to decline. This will teach kids that everyone is responsible for their actions as well as their pocket size.

Make a Smart Shopper

Smart shoppers are individuals who don’t buy at the first price they see. This is a value you should try to teach your kids to prevent them from wasting money in the future. Teach your kids how to make comparisons, even though this would take time. Buying something which you can get a local store for $300 for the price of $500 on an Amazon store is not worth it. Also, different stores in online marketplaces have different prices for similar products, so surfing for up to five minutes for the best deal is not a bad issue.

Teach them the Values of Work

Work is man’s best friend, and this is what you should always teach your kids. Even when in college, you should try to make your children give some time to work, even if it’s just 4 hours per weekend. This wouldn’t disrupt their study, and it’d teach them to be good earners in the future. If you’re not a fan of such jobs, then you can give them simple home chores or have them assist you in your job if possible. The bottom line is; get them to love work.

Reference for “Affluenza”…/affluenza-drunk-driver-who-killed-four-now-free-a…

Academics research on “Affluenza”

Affluence : Television use and cultivation of materialism, Harmon, MD (2001). Affluence: Television use and cultivation of materialism. Mass Communication & Society , 4 (4), 405-418. The cultivation theory claims that central messages of television become accepted views of reality among heavy viewers. The researcher conducted 2 secondary analyses to determine whether a correlation exists between heavy TV viewing and materialist values. The first analysis was of Simmons Market Research Bureau 1996 data, which included 21,594 respondents. Twenty-nine questions regarding materialistic values were compared with TV viewing, heavy to light quintiles regarding prime-time, daytime, and cable TV viewing. No significant correlations emerged.

Affluence : A world values test, Harmon, MD (2006). Affluence: A world values test. International Communication Gazette , 68 (2), 119-130. A secondary analysis of the European and World Values Surveys finds heavy television viewers are less likely than light television viewers to select an anti-acquisition national goal. Heavy viewers were also more likely than light viewers to report they are unhappy and dissatisfied both with their financial state and life overall. A nation-by-nation analysis of ‘affluenza’ (consumerist/materialist/acquisition values purportedly spread by heavy exposure to television) found few links to television viewing, but nations with heavier television viewing also were less happy. Television viewing, age, income and religiosity had little predictive value for pro-acquisition sentiments. The author concludes cultivation theory is too simple and inexact to explain any ‘affluenza’ effect. The author finds tantalizing clues of such an effect, and suggests techniques for future research.

Affluence : Towards universal churn generation, Fernández-Casado, E., Sánchez-Artigas, M., & García-López, P. (2010, August). Affluence: Towards universal churn generation. In 2010 IEEE Tenth International Conference on Peer-to-Peer Computing (P2P) (pp. 1-2). IEEE. Churn is an inherent property of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. Despite its relevance, yet, there is not a universal tool to bring researchers the opportunity to compare their contributions under the same general conditions. To fill this gap, we present the first open-source, simulator-independent tool for churn modeling.

Arab youth, television and ” affluence, Harmon, MD (2008). Arab youth, television and “affluence”. Popularized by several books, articles, and even a stage play over the last several years, a hypothesis known as “affluenza” predicts that media consumption will correlate positively with higher levels of materialistic traits. This paper re-analyzes data from a lifestyle survey administered to youth in Egypt and Saudi Arabia with an eye towards testing the affluenza hypothesis in light of the ongoing boom in Arab satellite television. While the survey was not specifically designed to test for affluenza, and therefore not an optimal tool, it did collect data on television viewing and several lifestyle topics which have been linked to affluenza in previous studies. Surprisingly, the data from this survey of Egyptian and Saudi youth did not show a link between increased television viewing and materialistic traits – in stark contrast to surveys conducted in the United States and Europe.

The turnout collapses , we vote more in the South, Emanuele, V. (2012). The turnout collapses, more is voted in the South. The municipal elections 2012 , 1 , 49.

Was this article helpful?