[CAJobPortal Insights] Diderot Effect

Want to inspire and re-ignite your team – especially after the appraisals and Bell Curve leave a lot many disenchanted

Use the Diderot Effect?

Well, it is a social phenomenon where a consumer who get a new possession gets stuck into a vortex of consumption eventually forcing him to acquire even more possessions

It’s like you buying an iPhone. And then an Apple watch. AirPods. MacBook. A chain of impulse driven purchases because now you want to live upto the aura of the first purchase

This first came into vogue in 1769 when the French philosopher Denis Diderot wrote an essay “Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown”. He described how after getting a beautiful scarlet dressing gown as gift, which initially gave him happiness, he got consumed by a desire to indulge in more similar purchases – “I was absolute master of my old dressing gown but I have become a slave to my new one.”

Diderot Effect is actually a great way to inspire and re-ignite a team that is beginning to stagnate and falter.


–        someone in the team suggests a new idea that’s implemented in the department + applauded or

–        someone acquires new skills through an L&D initiative

This might set into motion the Diderot Effect – these two new “purchases” would lead to even more purchases.  In other words, it would force the rest of the team to raise their standards, to “up their game” so to speak.

The reality is that as long as things don’t change, the status quo continues to be acceptable.  But when we drive change, it raises the bar and in fact elevates the overall standard.

What interventions can be done to drive such change? What could be the reward mechanisms for innovation and upskilling

What do you think? Is it feasible?

Would love to hear from you.