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The Dual Model of Materialism: Success Versus Happiness Materialism on Present and Future Life Satisfaction

Abstract

Materialism can influence life satisfaction both positively and negatively. We build on the dual model of materialism (Sirgy et al. Social Indicators Research, 110(1), 349-366, 2013) to make the case that two dimensions of materialism—success and happiness—may influence life satisfaction differently. Success materialism (wealth and material possessions is a sign of success in life) may influence life satisfaction positively, whereas happiness materialism (wealth and material consumption is a sign of happiness in life) may influence life satisfaction negatively. Success materialism contributes to life satisfaction because it serves to boost economic motivation and causing a rise in future satisfaction with their standard of living, which in turn contributes to future life satisfaction. Happiness materialism, in contrast, influences life satisfaction adversely through two paths. One path involves dissatisfaction with standard of living, which in turn influences life satisfaction in a negative way. The other negative path involves dissatisfaction with other life domains; that is, happiness materialism detracts from life satisfaction by undermining satisfaction in other life domains such as financial life, family life, social life, etc. Data from a large-scale representative survey of 7599 German adults provided good support for the hypotheses and more.

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Correspondence to M. Joseph Sirgy.

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Appendix: Constructs and Measurement Items

Appendix: Constructs and Measurement Items

Materialism (responses were captured using 5-point Likert scales)

  1. 1)

    Success

  2. 1.

    I admire people who own expensive homes, cars, and clothes.

  3. 2.

    I believe that the things I own say a lot about how well I am doing in life.

  4. 3.

    I like to own things that impress people.

  5. 4.

    I believe that some of the most important achievements in life include acquiring material possessions

  6. 5.

    I do not place much emphasis on the amount of material objects people own as a sign of success. ®

  7. 2)

    Happiness

  8. 1.

    I believe that my life would be better if I owned certain things I do not have

  9. 2.

    I believe that I would be happier if I could afford to buy more things.

  10. 3.

    It sometimes bothers me quite a bit that I cannot afford to buy all the things I would like.

  11. 4.

    I have all the things I really need to enjoy life. ®

  12. 5.

    I would be happier if I owned nicer things.

Dissatisfaction with Standard of Living (SOL) (responses were captured using 5-point semantic differential scales).

How do you feel about your standard of living? Please think of the material things you own, your financial situation, the household income, and your consumption lifestyle.

  1. 1.

    Happy/Unhappy

  2. 2.

    Good/Bad

  3. 3.

    Enthusiastic/ Miserable

  4. 4.

    Satisfied/Frustrated

  5. 5.

    Realized/ Disappointed

  6. 6.

    Satisfied/ Disappointed

  7. 7.

    Wealthy/Very poor

Dissatisfaction with Non-Material Life Domains (responses were captured using 11-point rating scales and transformed into 5-point scales)

  1. 1.

    How satisfied are you with your health?

  2. 2.

    How satisfied are you with your flat or your house?

  3. 3.

    How satisfied are you with your leisure time?

  4. 4.

    How satisfied are you with your family life?

  5. 5.

    How satisfied are you with your work?

  6. 6.

    How satisfied are you with your household activities?

Anticipated Future Satisfaction with Standard of Living (SOL) (responses were captured using 5-point Likert scales)

  1. 1.

    I anticipate that I will be happy with my income in the foreseeable future.

  2. 2.

    I talk a lot about how I will be happier in the future with the more income I will make.

  3. 3.

    I am optimistic about my future income.

  4. 4.

    I am hopeful that my financial situation will be significantly improved.

  5. 5.

    On many occasions I have expressed positive feelings about my income in the next few years.

  6. 6.

    I expect that my financial situation will be significantly improved in the near future.

Economic Motivation (responses were captured using 5-point Likert scales)

  1. 1.

    I feel like I am driven to work hard to achieve a higher standard of living.

  2. 2.

    I feel extra motivated to make a better income.

  3. 3.

    I have a strong drive to achieve a better financial situation.

  4. 4.

    I feel extra motivated to make a decent income.

  5. 5.

    I have a strong drive to improve my financial situation.

Present Life Satisfaction (responses were captured using 11-point rating scale and transformed into 5-point scale)

  1. 1.

    How satisfied are you at the moment overall with your life?

Future Life Satisfaction (responses were captured using 11-point rating scale and transformed into 5-point scales)

  1. 1.

    And how do you think it will be in a year from now?

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Sirgy, M.J., Yu, G.B., Lee, DJ. et al. The Dual Model of Materialism: Success Versus Happiness Materialism on Present and Future Life Satisfaction. Applied Research Quality Life 16, 201–220 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-019-09763-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-019-09763-8

Keywords

  • Materialism
  • Life satisfaction
  • Future life satisfaction
  • Economic motivation
  • Standard of living