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For example, in this sentence:

pursuing goals that reflect genuine human needs, like wanting to feel connected to others, turns out to be more psychologically beneficial than spending one’s life trying to impress others or to accumulate trendy clothes, fancy gizmos, and the money to keep buying them. The latter quest may amount to using compensation to try to compensate for something more meaningful.

Actually, I can’t understand what this sentence means. Can someone explain that?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Compensate is being used two ways here. To rephrase:

The latter quest may amount to using (money and the act of spending money) to (make up for the lack of) something more meaningful.

It means that people use the notion of spending money on status symbols to fill a hole in their lives. The hole may be from unfulfilled dreams or lack of self-esteem, but many times they don't recognize this within themselves.

They feel badly about themselves and want to divert attention from their shortcomings by having something to talk about and flaunt, for example, a shiny car or fashionable clothes.

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Thanks for your answer. I think it's correct. Your comment and of course your justifications were just like the book I'm translating. – Shakiba r.abadi Aug 5 '12 at 14:54

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