Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

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

  • Tim KasserEmail author
  • Katherine L. Rosenblum
  • Arnold J. Sameroff
  • Edward L. Deci
  • Christopher P. Niemiec
  • Richard M. Ryan
  • Osp Árnadóttir
  • Rod Bond
  • Helga Dittmar
  • Nathan Dungan
  • Susan Hawks
Original Paper


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.


Materialism Values Goals Well-being Interventions 



The 18-year-old data collection in Study 1 was supported by the W. T. Grant Foundation (Grant 88113087); the 30-year-old data collection was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant 1 P50 MH-59396). Study 2 was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH-53385). Study 4 was supported by a grant from the Marjorie Weil and Marvin Edward Mitchell Foundation. The authors thank Clara Baldwin, Melvin Zax, and Jill Gray for their assistance with Study 1 and Cicely Robinson for her assistance with Study 4.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Kasser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katherine L. Rosenblum
    • 2
  • Arnold J. Sameroff
    • 3
  • Edward L. Deci
    • 4
  • Christopher P. Niemiec
    • 4
  • Richard M. Ryan
    • 4
  • Osp Árnadóttir
    • 5
  • Rod Bond
    • 5
  • Helga Dittmar
    • 5
  • Nathan Dungan
    • 6
  • Susan Hawks
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKnox CollegeGalesburgUSA
  2. 2.Center for Human Growth and DevelopmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of Clinical and Social PsychologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SussexBrightonUK
  6. 6.ShareSaveSpendMinneapolisUSA

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