Mattering at the Intersection of Psychology, Philosophy, and Politics

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23 Scopus citations


Mattering is an ideal state of affairs consisting of two complementary psychological experiences: feeling valued and adding value. Human beings can feel valued by, and add value to, self, others, work, and community. To make sure that the need for mattering is fulfilled, we must balance feeling valued with adding value. Moreover, we must balance adding value to self with adding value to others. Unfortunately, the dominant neoliberal philosophy does not support the values required to ensure the experience of mattering. Whereas a healthy and fair society would require equilibrium among values for personal, relational, and collective well-being, the dominant philosophy in many parts of the world favors personal at the expense of relational and collective values. Neoliberal economic and social policies have resulted in diminished sense of mattering for millions of people. Some people respond to cultural pressures to achieve higher status by becoming depressive or aggressive. Some marginalized groups, in turn, support xenophobic, nationalistic, and populist policies in an effort to regain a sense of mattering. To make sure that everyone matters, we must align the psychology, philosophy, and politics of mattering. The political struggle for a just and equitable distribution of mattering takes place in social movements and the policy arena. The perils and promises of these efforts are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-34
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Adding value
  • Communal well-being
  • Fairness
  • Feeling valued
  • Mattering
  • Moral values
  • Nationalism
  • Personal well-being
  • Relational well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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