Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 289–302

Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism in Adolescents

  • Jeffrey J. Froh
  • Robert A. Emmons
  • Noel A. Card
  • Giacomo Bono
  • Jennifer A. Wilson
Research Paper

Abstract

Materialistic youth seem to be languishing while grateful youth seem to be flourishing. High school students (N = 1,035) completed measures of materialism, gratitude, academic functioning, envy, depression, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption. Using structural equation modeling, we found that gratitude, controlling for materialism, uniquely predicts all outcomes considered: higher grade point average, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption, as well as lower envy and depression. In contrast, materialism, controlling for gratitude, uniquely predicts three of the six outcomes: lower grade point average, as well as higher envy and life satisfaction. Furthermore, when examining the relative strengths of gratitude and materialism as predictors, we found that gratitude is generally a stronger predictor of these six outcomes than is materialism.

Keywords

Gratitude Materialism Well-being Adolescents Self-determination theory 

References

  1. Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. L. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8, 425–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Belk, R. W. (1984). Three scales to measure constructs related to materialism: Reliability, validity, and relationships to measures of happiness. In T. Kinnear (Ed.), Advances in consumer research (11th ed., pp. 291–297). Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research.Google Scholar
  3. Belk, R. W. (1985). Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world. Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 265–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bilsky, W., & Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Values and personality. European Journal of Personality, 8, 163–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bono, G., & Froh, J. J. (2009). Gratitude in school: Benefits to students and schools. In R. Gilman, E. S. Huebner, & M. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools (pp. 77–88). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bono, G., & Polak, E. L. (2007). Gratitude and materialism: Divergent links to relational well-being. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  7. Brage, D., Meredith, W., & Woodward, J. (1993). Correlates of loneliness among Midwestern adolescents. Adolescence, 28, 685–693.Google Scholar
  8. Chaplin, L. N., & John, D. R. (2007). Growing up in a material world: Age differences in materialism in children and adolescents. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 480–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cohen, P., & Cohen, J. (1996). Life values and adolescent mental health. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  10. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Emmons, R. A. (2007). Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.Google Scholar
  12. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Faulstich, M., Carey, M., Ruggiero, L., Enyart, P., & Gresham, F. (1986). Assessment of depression in childhood and adolescence: An evaluation of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC). American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 1024–1027.Google Scholar
  14. Flouri, E. (2004). Exploring the relationship between mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices and children’s materialist values. Journal of Economic Psychology, 25, 743–752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Froh, J. J., & Bono, G. (2008). The gratitude of youth. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Positive psychology: Exploring the best in people (Vol. 2, pp. 55–78). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  16. Froh, J. J., Bono, G., & Emmons, R. A. (2009b). Saying “thank you” is beyond manners: Gratitude and motivation to contribute to society among early adolescents. Manuscript submitted for publication. Google Scholar
  17. Froh, J. J., Kashdan, T. B., Ozimkowski, K. M., & Miller, N. (2009a). Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 408–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Froh, J. J., Kashdan, T. B., Yurkewicz, C., Fan, J., Allen, J., & Glowacki, J. (2010). The benefits of passion and absorption in activities: Engaged living in adolescents and its role in psychological well-being. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  19. Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008a). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Froh, J. J., Wajsblat, L., & Ubertini, M. (2008b). Gratitude’s role in promoting flourishing and inhibiting languishing: Using positive psychology to complement clinical practice. Poster session presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Annual Convention, Orlando, FL.Google Scholar
  21. Froh, J. J., Yurkewicz, C., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009b). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence: Examining gender differences. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 633–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldberg, M. E., Gorn, G. J., Peracchio, L. A., & Bamossy, G. (2003). Understanding materialism among youth. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13, 278–288.Google Scholar
  23. Grouzet, F. M. E., Kasser, T., Ahuvia, A., Dols, J. M. F., Kim, Y., Lau, S., et al. (2005). The structure of goal contents across 15 cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 800–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four factor index of social status. Unpublished manuscript. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University.Google Scholar
  25. Huebner, E. S., Suldo, S. M., & Valois, R. F. (2003). Psychometric properties of two brief measures of children’s life satisfaction: The Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale and the Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS). Retrieved December 26, 2005, http://www.childtrends.org/files/huebnersuldovaloispaper.pdf.
  26. Kashdan, T. B., & Breen, W. E. (2007). Materialism and diminished well-being: Experiential avoidance as a mediating mechanism. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 521–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kasser, T. (2002). The high price of materialism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kasser, T. (2005). Frugality, generosity, and materialism in children and adolescents. In K. A. Moore & L. H. Lippman (Eds.), What do children need to flourish: Conceptualizing and measuring indicators of positive development (pp. 357–373). New York: Kluwer/Plenum.Google Scholar
  29. Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1993). A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 410–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1996). Further examining the American dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 280–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Sheldon, K. M. (2004). Materialistic values: Their causes and consequences. In T. Kasser & A. D. Kanner (Eds.), Psychology and consumer culture: The struggle for a good life in a materialistic world (pp. 11–28). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kneezel, T., & Emmons, R. A. (2006). Personality and spiritual development. In P. L. Benson, E. C. Roehlkepartain, P. E. King, & L. Wagener (Eds.), The handbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence (pp. 266–278). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  33. McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McCullough, M. E., Kilpatrick, S. D., Emmons, R. A., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Is gratitude a moral affect? Psychological Bulletin, 127, 249–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nairn, A., Ormond, J., & Bottomley, P. (2007). Watching, wanting, and well-being: Exploring the links. National Consumer Council.Google Scholar
  36. Polak, E. L., & McCullough, M. E. (2006). Is gratitude an alternative to materialism? Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 343–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richins, M. (2004). The Material Values Scale: Measurement properties and development of a short form. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 209–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Richins, M. L., & Dawson, S. (1992). A consumer values orientation for materialism and its measurement: Scale development and validation. Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 303–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rindfleisch, A., Burroughs, J. E., & Denton, F. (1997). Family structure, materialism, and compulsive consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 23, 312–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roberts, D. F., Foehr, U. G., Rideout, V. J., & Brodie, M. A. (1999). Kids and media at the new millennium. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation.Google Scholar
  41. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schor, J. B. (2004). Born to buy: The commercialized child and the new consumer culture. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  43. Seligson, J. L., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2003). Preliminary validation of the Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS). Social Indicators Research, 61, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sheldon, K. M., & Kasser, T. (1995). Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 531–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Smith, R. H., Parrott, W. G., Diener, E. F., Hoyle, R. H., & Kim, S. H. (1999). Dispositional envy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 1007–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thomas, M., & Watkins, P. (2003). Measuring the grateful trait: Development of the revised GRAT. Poster session presented at the Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Vancouver, BC.Google Scholar
  47. Weissman, M. M., Orvaschel, H., & Padian, N. (1980). Children’s symptoms and social functioning self-report scales: Comparison of mothers’ and children’s reports. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 168, 736–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Williams, G. C., Cox, E. M., Hedberg, V. A., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Extrinsic life goals and health-risk behaviors in adolescents. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 1756–1771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 854–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey J. Froh
    • 1
  • Robert A. Emmons
    • 2
  • Noel A. Card
    • 3
  • Giacomo Bono
    • 4
  • Jennifer A. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHofstra UniversityHempsteadUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  3. 3.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  4. 4.Whittier CollegeWhittierUSA

Personalised recommendations