Why do we collect things?

People have been collecting various items for centuries, everything from rare Pokémon cards to vintage comic books to old Coca-Cola bottles. The motivations behind collecting are as diverse as the objects themselves and they offer a fascinating glimpse into the human psyche. Collecting can be driven by a myriad of factors including the pursuit of enjoyment, investment opportunities, a sense of belonging to a community and even a deep-seated and extremely human instinct to accumulate and preserve items of significance.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, claimed that collecting was somehow connected to a person’s toilet training. Of course, no one is really sure what it is that Freud collected. 


Truthfully, we’re kind of scared to ask.

 It’s rumored that Noah (of “Noah and the Ark” fame) was an obsessive animal hoarder. We’re not sure why – but it’d explain so much. He was a “crazy cat lady” way before it became a thing.




One thing that we do know is that in the US approximately 40% of households indulge in some form of collecting. 

So, why do people collect things?

  1. Investment opportunity: Some objects go up in value for various reasons including high demand, rarity, lack of supply and/or being highly significant in some way. 
  2. Nostalgia: The objects may have some form of personal significance to the person. For instance, people collecting toys or tchotchkes that were somehow a part of their childhood. Collecting those objects somehow connects them to this past.
  3. The Neverending Quest: The one thing that is common in most collectors of all types of things – is that collecting is a never-ending search to completing a set, even if that will never happen. It’s in all of us, this need to fill a hole that collecting something really does. This “quest” is what drives us. It’s an example of the journey being just as important as the actual destination, sometimes more so.
  4. Finding the Lost Ark (with apologies to Indiana Jones): Finding a rare comic in a flea market for $2 or an impossible to find Star Wars figure at a garage sale is the ultimate joy for most collectors. 
  5. Community: Collecting some objects (such as Pokémon cards or comic books) might help connect you to a like-minded group of people who collect that as well. It’s something that may even elevate our status within that community. For some people, what they collect can give them a social connection to others that do so as well.
  6. Fun: Some people just have fun collecting these things, searching them out, researching them, meeting up with fellow collectors and showing off their collections.
  7. Lowering stress: People who collect things often say that they are less stressed and better able to unwind.Basically, the act of collecting something gives you a safe space where we can relax and leave the stress behind us.

So why do people collect things? For some, it relieves stress, for others it gives them a sense of community or accomplishment. There’s a myriad of reasons why people collect. At the end of the day, all that matters is that it somehow makes you happy doing so.

What do you collect and why?

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