Grown men graduate from collecting action figures to gathering watches, coins, stamps, and vinyl records.
Collecting isn’t exclusively a guy thing. Women enjoy building collections of things they love, too. Men, however, tend to take collecting to a level of geekdom that transcends casual interest.
A guy’s collection is his opportunity to display specialized knowledge other guys can’t match—unless they collect the same things.
Collections may have started as a survival mechanism. Gathering scarce items that provided nourishment, shelter, or protection from the elements made sense.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, collections became a status symbol. Botanical and animal specimens, fossils, or seashells organized into display cabinets became a staple in wealthy homes.
Now, psychologists have several explanations for the urge to collect. The prevailing idea was that people collect things because they feel an emotional connection.
More recently, a study conducted by a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that people start collecting when they already own two of the same object.
Owning two of the same things suggests wastefulness or extravagance. But instead of throwing away objects they like, people justify owning them by creating a collection.
Most collectors are amateurs who do it for pleasure. Professional collectors do it for profit. Collections of valuable antiques, rare spirits, and artwork can be auctioned at a profit.
Philanthropy is intertwined with collecting. Many personal collections are donated to museums. The sale proceeds of valuable collections can be donated to charitable organizations.
The “endowment” effect is another reason why people collect things. People tend to regard objects as more valued the more they own of them.
Similarly, the “contagion” effect refers to the value collectors put into objects formerly owned by celebrities or sports heroes. Collectors view the object as bringing some of the essence of its former owner.
Benefits of Collecting
Collecting has side benefits. It inspires learning. Collectors want to gather as much knowledge as possible about their chosen collectible items.
Starting a collection provides stress relief and relaxation. At the same time, it can give the collector the thrill of discovery when they locate a long-desired, rare item.
Collecting brings order to an often chaotic world. Some psychologists have suggested that collecting provides a sense of control. Those with childhood abandonment issues may find solace in organizing and managing a collection.
Collecting is different than hoarding. Collectors have control over their behavior. Hoarders may suffer mental illness like OCD that robs them of control over gathering and hanging on to things.
Social interaction is another benefit of starting a collection. The collector immediately becomes a member of a community of people who like the same things they do.
So, whether your thing is comic books, movie posters, stamps, or coins, you won’t be alone with your enthusiasm.