The Golden Apple

The Golden Apple

In Greek mythology, the goddess Eris threw a golden apple into a wedding feast, with the inscription "to the fairest." This simple act sparked a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the Trojan War - one of the most epic conflicts in human history.

The story of the golden apple highlights a fundamental truth about human behavior: our desire for scarce or coveted objects can drive us to pursue them at all costs. This primal drive has been part of human nature since the dawn of time, motivating us to strive for excellence, seek out adventure, and push the boundaries of what is possible.

Today, scarcity remains a powerful force that shapes our lives and drives our decisions. Whether it's a limited edition product, a time-limited offer, or an exclusive event, the perception of scarcity triggers a cascade of responses in our brains, releasing dopamine and other pleasure-inducing chemicals that drive us to pursue the object of our desire.

At the same time, the power of scarcity is not without its downsides. It can lead us to make irrational decisions, act impulsively, and even engage in unethical behavior. In the business world, scarcity has become a ubiquitous marketing tool, used to create demand and drive sales. But the challenge for businesses is to harness the power of scarcity without exploiting it.

By understanding the full range of the scarcity mindset, we can unlock its potential to drive innovation, creativity, and success - without succumbing to its negative consequences.

Psychological Basis

Scarcity is more than just an economic principle – it's also deeply rooted in human psychology. As social creatures, we are wired to value what others value, and to want what others want. When we perceive something as scarce, our brains release pleasure-inducing chemicals, such as dopamine, that drive us to pursue the object of our desire.

This psychological response has been observed in many contexts, from animal behavior to human decision-making. In one study, researchers found that participants were more likely to bid on items when they were told that the items were in short supply, even when the actual supply was plentiful. This demonstrates how the mere perception of scarcity can influence our behavior, even when there is no objective shortage.

Furthermore, scarcity can create a sense of urgency and importance around an object or event. When something is rare or exclusive, it takes on added significance in our minds, and we are more likely to assign it greater value. This is why we might be willing to pay a premium for a limited edition item or a seat at an exclusive event.

The scarcity mindset can also lead to competition and conflict. When resources are limited, people may compete fiercely for access to them, leading to hoarding, aggression, and other negative outcomes. This can be seen in situations such as food scarcity in developing countries, where individuals and communities may engage in violent conflict over access to limited resources.


To understand the full range of psychological effects that scarcity can have, we must look beyond the surface-level desire for scarce objects and examine the underlying motivations, emotions, and behaviors that drive our responses to scarcity.