The psychology of collecting

One could easily go deep into the depths of psychology to discuss and explain why people collect things. It is true that people have been collecting all sorts of things for centuries. From precious stones to baseball cards to old matchboxes to broken laser pointers… any sort of product or oddity you can imagine most likely it is someone’s subject of collection.

At an Academic level there have been some studies about the reasons why people collect. Most academics have concluded that people collect in an effort to keep alive memories from the past. Indeed an object from the past can stimulate memory and especially to trigger nice memories. Even if memory can not accurately reproduce an event of the past, still it remains vital in understanding that past. A collector always connects itself to the historic, valued past via the objects in his collection. In other words, this is what we also call ‘Nostalgia’.

Psychology of collecting Another significant factor to a collector’s psychology is the satisfaction of the personal aesthetics. Collecting Heavy Metal is about pleasing the taste for music more and more. And not only the musical need but all other extra-musical attributes that come with it. Additionally collecting a particular subgenre, or an artist or a specific format a Heavy Metalcollector can distinguish itself even within the Metal community.
A collector is (most of the times) obsessed with his collection and very passionate about it. He can spend countless hours researching for a particular rare CD or for a totally unknown band he feels it could be worth adding to the collection. When acquiring a new possession he will spend more than enough time to examine the item. He will notice all remarkable details in the artwork, any possible spelling mistakes in the lyrics, he will even read through the ‘thanks list’ to identify other artists and individuals. Moreover, he will take good notice of the recording details, the record label, the year of release and will try to find out as much as possible in forums and in collector communities.

This passion is very characteristic of music collectors. It has the power to transcend the collector to another world! Especially when it comes to albums and bands that very little information is available then this ‘trip’ becomes even greater.

Another attribute in collecting music is the sense of completion. This is particularly evident when focusing on a specific artist. The love and the appreciation of a specific band is the driving force for people to collect everything associated with them. Although this kind of collection is easier to accomplish, with major bands like for example Iron Maiden it can also be a hard task considering the fact Iron Maiden have a list of recordings that has a few thousand titles in it (including the bootlegs).

Collecting music is such a wonderful hobby because it can be different and unique for everyone. Each found item has its own story behind it (how it was found, in which place, how much it cost etc) and every collector usually associate some personal story for each item. In the process of collecting, the individual continue to learn. As he builds up his collection, he applies skills in identifying, selecting, discriminating, evaluating, classifying, and arranging items.

If you are interested in the psychology of collecting and the psychology of music in general, we recommend the following books