Original Paper

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

  • Tim KasserAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Knox College Email author 
  • , Katherine L. RosenblumAffiliated withCenter for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan
  • , Arnold J. SameroffAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Michigan
  • , Edward L. DeciAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical and Social Psychology, University of Rochester
  • , Christopher P. NiemiecAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical and Social Psychology, University of Rochester
  • , Richard M. RyanAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical and Social Psychology, University of Rochester
  • , Osp ÁrnadóttirAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Sussex
  • , Rod BondAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Sussex
  • , Helga DittmarAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Sussex
    • , Nathan DunganAffiliated withShareSaveSpend
    • , Susan HawksAffiliated withShareSaveSpend

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Materialism Values Goals Well-being Interventions