, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 405-435

The Art of Buying: Coming to Terms with Money and Materialism

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Money and possessions hold strong attractions, but being driven to acquire them in order to enhance one's social standing is associated with lowered well-being. Literatures on money and happiness, materialism, and cultural mediators are reviewed. Consumer well-being is associated with being neither very tight nor very loose with money, with having relatively low financial aspirations, and with being low in materialism. Price-related behaviors – whether to spend low, spend high, or attempt to maximize value – are ways of responding to economic outlay vis-à-vis material wants, and these "strategies" offer a window into broader consumer lifestyles: the Value Seeker type is tight with money and materialistic; the Big Spender is loose with money and materialistic; the Non-Spender is tight with money and not materialistic; and the Experiencer is loose with money and not materialistic. Each of these types is described in terms of the potentials for well-being as well as the risks. Intrinsic motivation emerges as a key to well-being.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.