Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 1–22

Changes in materialism, changes in psychological well-being: Evidence from three longitudinal studies and an intervention experiment


    • Department of PsychologyKnox College
  • Katherine L. Rosenblum
    • Center for Human Growth and DevelopmentUniversity of Michigan
  • Arnold J. Sameroff
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Michigan
  • Edward L. Deci
    • Department of Clinical and Social PsychologyUniversity of Rochester
  • Christopher P. Niemiec
    • Department of Clinical and Social PsychologyUniversity of Rochester
  • Richard M. Ryan
    • Department of Clinical and Social PsychologyUniversity of Rochester
  • Osp Árnadóttir
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Sussex
  • Rod Bond
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Sussex
  • Helga Dittmar
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Sussex
  • Nathan Dungan
    • ShareSaveSpend
  • Susan Hawks
    • ShareSaveSpend
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11031-013-9371-4

Cite this article as:
Kasser, T., Rosenblum, K.L., Sameroff, A.J. et al. Motiv Emot (2014) 38: 1. doi:10.1007/s11031-013-9371-4


Few studies have examined how changes in materialism relate to changes in well-being; fewer have experimentally manipulated materialism to change well-being. Studies 1, 2, and 3 examined how changes in materialistic aspirations related to changes in well-being, using varying time frames (12 years, 2 years, and 6 months), samples (US young adults and Icelandic adults), and measures of materialism and well-being. Across all three studies, results supported the hypothesis that people’s well-being improves as they place relatively less importance on materialistic goals and values, whereas orienting toward materialistic goals relatively more is associated with decreases in well-being over time. Study 2 additionally demonstrated that this association was mediated by changes in psychological need satisfaction. A fourth, experimental study showed that highly materialistic US adolescents who received an intervention that decreased materialism also experienced increases in self-esteem over the next several months, relative to a control group. Thus, well-being changes as people change their relative focus on materialistic goals.



Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013