Collecting Battle Beasts is just one example of the endless amount of things you could collect in life because you can literally built a collection out of anything and everything. But what is this collecting urge, is it good or bad, what´s causing it and is there a distinction to make between the types of collectors out there? These and many more subjects in regards to collecting in general are discussed here. Like many commercially marketed toys the strategy behind Battle Beasts back in the 80´s was also triggering the psyche but the specific points of Battle Beasts collecting will be discussed on another page.
If your partner, friend, family or whoever close to you who feels like you might have a problem collecting Battle Beasts (or anything else you might collect) than this might be an interesting article to share with them 😉
The Psychology of collecting…
As passionate collector or even beginning collector there´s no real need to explain the passion or desire that´s behind it but to understand a bit more about where it comes from it might be interesting to look into psychology of collecting a bit more. Because what is this, never ending (?), itch or urge exactly and why is collecting so addictive…?
First and foremost you´re not alone in collecting because;
¨Many greats minds (scientists/artists/politicians)
in history had collections of their own¨
Just to name a few…
Charles Darwin, naturalist and biologist, was an enthusiastic collector of Beetles during his undergraduate years. Sigmund Freud was, besides collecting dreams and psychological conditions, an avid collector of antiquities some of which were even displayed on his desk. Pablo Picasso had, besides being a great artist himself, a considerable collection of work from other famous artists. And Barack Obama, former President of the US, collects comic books.
Is it just a coincidence that such important persons who have been of major influence to our contemporary history collected something or is there more behind the psychology of collecting in general that could explain this?
What is Collecting?
Collecting could be considered a hobby that includes the thrill to seek, locate, acquire, organize, catalog, display, store and maintain items that are of interest to an individual collector. And it can literally be anything and everything.
A collection is built by a collector and each collection is unique because it is a personal reflection of how the collector likes to see it, the way it is organized, displayed and so on.
From a psychological point of view collecting is speculated to be connected to the hunting and gathering idea that´s needed in the past for human survival. In a way this would mean that collecting is part of humans basic instinct. The search and urge to collect resulting in that positive feel or moment of satisfaction once a goal has been reached. In our contemporary world collecting is part of everyone´s daily life because whether you are collecting money, gather likes on Instagram, gather compliments about your lifestyle or whatever in a way it´s all based on a similar inner urge.
Even though collecting can take up a lot of time, place and money (depending on what it is that you collect) it is in many ways also a relaxing activity that counteracts the stress of life, chasing goals at another level than your every day personal and career goals which are much more loaded and can weigh heavy on your shoulders.
Collecting is a way out of the busy life
a purposeful break for the brain
Before diving completely into the psychological explanations first let´s have a look at the definition of two terms according to Dictionary.com;
to gather together; assemble; to accumulate; make a collection of:
something that is collected; a group of objects or an amount of
material accumulated in one location,
especially for some purpose or as a result of some process:
According to the Wikipedia page;
The Psychology of collecting is an area of study that seeks to understand the motivating factors why people devote great amounts of time, money, and energy making and maintaining collections.
It is obvious that at the base of each collection there could be a dozen of motives ranging from positive as well as negative experiences but in almost all cases it´s driven by an emotional base. Nostalgia is one of the words that definitely fits in here because it´s a strong emotion that recalls memories from a past time, for instance your childhood. Objects from that period, like toys, are able to call upon strong emotions bringing you back to a certain moment in time. For people who collect their collections are not valued in monetary value but in emotional value.
The Positive side
Collecting can therefore be considered as a level of ease for the collector by keeping memories alive in a physical way letting the past continue in the present. But it can also work as a source of inspiration and evoke creativity. Once you start collecting and slowly built your collection you can also get hooked by the feeling of adding new items to the collection in which case the general concept of collecting becomes driven by the seek for the thrill of the hunt. For these collectors, collecting is a quest, a lifelong pursuit that can never be completed. This is a point where collecting actually might become dangerous from various perspectives but it is exactly that thrill that keeps most collectors going. It´s the challenge to keep it fun an healthy within the limits and boundaries you might have to deal with in order to continue to experience that thrill while at the same time staying out of problems.
But apart from the fact that keeping a healthy balance can be tricky at some times there are also a numerous amounts of very positive things that come with a collection;
You built and evolve your observational skills due to the fact that when you spend so much time and effort exploring and looking into a specific subject or item you´ll automatically develop a level of knowledge that´s hard to develop in any other way. Passion can be considered as one of the best sources to teach and learn yourself new skills. It´ll drive you to look into details more and it´ll trigger you to explore beyond what´s known. It are skills like these that you´ll not only benefit of when it comes to your collection but it could also resound in real life situations.
Collections often demand a certain level of organization or categorization in order to keep track of what you have. This is an element of collecting that improves so called organizational thinking. Something that could translate into more productive and efficient thinking as you´ve learned yourself to subdivide a large amount of information in the form of objects or items into an organized and categorized structure.
As a collector thinking in categories you enhance your ability to recognize common characteristics and detect gaps in patterns. Therefore collecting also enhances pattern recognition. Something that´s nicely described by Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein (co-authors of Sparks of Genius, The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People) in an article they wrote on Psychology Today;
“the collector also knows the surprise of finding something that doesn’t fit the collection pattern: Is the mismatch a fake? An exception? Something that belongs in another collection? Broken patterns are often the ones that teach us the most by challenging our preconceptions and expectations.”
And although this might be a psychological write up it is definitely a quote a lot of collectors will recognize and can relate to. Because it´s often the oddball discovery which leads to new discoveries or stories within a collection.
Collecting in a certain way also awakens a desire for knowledge because by realizing how much information is out there on just that one subject or item you´re passionate about is a major trigger for learning itself. Knowing a lot about one specific subject provides a reassuring sense of command in that subject, which is both useful and great for self-esteem.
As mentioned earlier a lot of artists, and not only artists, collect things that they find either visually stimulating or that trigger feelings of connection between different elements. A collection inspires creativity whether that´s on a more conscious base using your collection as a direct source of inspiration or reference or even at a more subconscious level with your collection triggering certain emotions making unique connections.
It´s highly likely that your collection may forge commitment to actively support a good cause whether that´s joining a association, community or donating in a certain way in order to preserve and contribute to that what you´re passionate about.
Even though that what you collect might might seem the most strange thing in the world and you might think you´re completely alone it it that´s often not the case. Once you start looking around and explore the digital world for ways to expand your collection you´ll soon find out that there are more people interested in the same subject. And since you´re both passionate about the same thing it´s an easy starting point for a new friendship and that´s how friendships or even complete communities are built the common ground of collecting. You can definitely say that collecting fosters social connections and in our contemporary world that´s without any boundaries meaning you can become friends with fellow collectors from all over the world.
Your collection may actually pave your way to a career. And although this doesn´t seem very likely if you´ve a ¨weird¨ collection it wouldn´t be the first time that the thing that you´re passionate about makes you explore possibilities you´d not have thought about before you started collecting. Of course it´s more likely to evolve into a certain career once you have collected something as a kid or at a young age like Charles Darwin who´s Beetle collection evolved into becoming on of the greatest biologists in history but there doesn´t always have to be such a direct and obvious connection. Because as the other points above have shown you´re not only building a vast knowledge about a vey specific subject you´re also developing skills and experiences that could be of great use in other situations as well.
There´s more to collecting that meets the eye
because behind every collection there´s ALWAYS more that you don´t see…
The Negative side
When the things you don´t see, which (hopefully) in most cases are the positive things of collecting, aren´t positive collecting can become really problematic. Because that ¨what you don´t see¨ can be related to things people don´t want to talk about or share in general because collections can lead to all sorts of conflicts caused by the fact it takes time, space and money…
It is obvious to say that once conflicts occur on any of these levels causing problems for yourself, partner, family or anyone else the collection becomes problematic and it´s wise to start reconsidering things. Because once your collection or passion takes control over your health, social life, the (living) space or your bank account it´s time to reflect in order to prevent more serious problems because if you loose control over your collecting habits it´s very easy to loose more than just your collection. It wouldn´t be the first time that the uncontrollable crave for collecting ruins relationships gets people into debts and so on, once that downhill spiral hits it can go very fast. Common sense is definitely another skill you, or some close to you, must have to prevent problems like this.
Once there is no control over the collection anymore and there´s no sign of organization or structure left and all healthy collection behaviors are surpassed the collector has turned into a hoarder. At this stage the collecting ¨disease¨ has actually turned into a mental condition as it becomes pathological interfering with daily life. Collections are often catalogued, sorted, and objectively maintained like books in a library. Hoarding behavior is the opposite. Items with no value or use are piled up in stacks without order nor reason.
It is scientifically confirmed by neurologists that this condition of hoarding is actually caused by conflicts in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The area that regulates cognitive behaviors like decision making, information processing, and organizing behavior.
This also means that if you are sensitive and easily develop addictions for certain things collecting might not be the best area to explore because once the thrill of collecting becomes unhealthy it easily develops itself into an addiction from where it can go completely downhill.
Collecting CAN become addictive!!!
In some cases this urge to collect is something you develop completely by yourself because if you for instance collect rocks there´s no one who tells you how many you should collect whereas in other areas there could be very strategic theories behind the release of certain items forcing you to buy it. Because let´s not forget in many cases the things that are actually made to collect from a commercial point of view are often well thought- and strategically planned out. Marketing is psychology…
If these thoughts might be hard to relate to for your partner or relatives and or they´re not able to tap into their own childhood collecting cravings confront them with their ¨unhealthy¨ urge to binge-watch complete TV series or whatever because in the end that´s no difference from collecting, it´s collecting episodes and their craving for the next episode is similar to your craving for the next item you are after for your collection.
There is a lot to say about collecting and from a psychological point of view, it definitely has positive as well as negative sides but if you use your common sense AND listen to the advice you receive from the people surrounding you there are only positive things that your passion for collecting can bring!
Curious to read more about the psychology that´s behind collecting Battle Beasts and how, even today, we as collectors are still influenced by the release strategy of 30+ years ago? Click below to go to the page about Battle Beasts collecting;
The reason why this article was added to the Beastformers Blog is to trigger a moment of reflection because as easy as it might be to dive completely into the world of Battle Beasts, or any other thing you´re passionate about, it´s important to contemplate about it every now and than in order to keep your collection growing in a healthy way. Having some (extra) insights in the psychology behind collecting might make things more easy or at least you know where some inner thoughts might originate from.
Good luck with finding the next item you´re after for your collection OR if you´ve gone to far already and you realize that after reading this good luck downsizing because in the end collecting should be fun and relaxing and foremost stay healthy for everyone!
The Beastformers Team