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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Belk, R. W. (1984). Three scales to measure constructs related to materialism: Reliability, validity, and relationships to measures of happiness. Advances in Consumer Research, 11(1), 291–297.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Belk, R. W. (1985). Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world. Journal of Consumer Research, 12(3), 265–280.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139–168.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bosnjak, M., Dannwolf, T., Enderle, T., Schaurer, I., Struminskaya, B., Tanner, A., & Weyandt, K. W. (2018). Establishing an open probability-based mixed-mode panel of the general population in Germany: The GESIS panel. Social Science Computer Review, 36, 103–115.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Burgard, T., Bosnjak, M., & Kasten, N. (2019). Moderators of panel conditioning effects. A meta-analysis. Presentation given at the 21st General Online Research Conference, TH Köln, March 8, 2019, Cologne. https://doi.org/10.23668/psycharchives.2374

  7. Burroughs, J. E., & Rindfleisch, A. (2002). Materialism and well-being: A conflicting values perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 29(3), 348–370.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Chin, W. W. (1998). Issues and opinion on structural equation modeling. MIS Quarterly, 22(1), 7–16.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Dawson, S., & Bamossy, G. (1991). If we are what we have, what are we when we don't have? An exploratory study of materialism among expatriate Americans. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 6(6), 363–384.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Diener, E., & Fujita, F. (1995). Resources, personal strivings, and subjective well-being: A nomothetic and idiographic approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(5), 926–935.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 276–302.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Dittmar, H., Bond, R., Hurst, M., & Kasser, T. (2014). The relationship between materialism and personal well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(5), 879–924.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Ekici, T., & Koydemir, S. (2016). Income expectations and happiness: Evidence from British panel data. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 11(4), 539–552.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Emmons, R. A. (1986). Personal strivings: An approach to personality and subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(5), 1058–1075.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39–50.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ger, G., & Belk, R. W. (1999). Accounting for materialism in four cultures. Journal of Material Culture, 4(2), 183–204.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Green, L. S., Oades, L. G., & Grant, A. M. (2006). Cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused life coaching: Enhancing goal striving, well-being, and hope. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(3), 142–149.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Hagerty, M. R., & Veenhoven, R. (2003). Wealth and happiness revisited–growing national income does go with greater happiness. Social Indicators Research, 64(1), 1–27.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hayo, B., & Seifert, W. (2003). Subjective economic well-being in Eastern Europe. Journal of Economic Psychology, 24(3), 329–348.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hudders, L., & Pandelaere, M. (2012). The silver lining of materialism: The effects of luxury consumption on subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(3), 411–437.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Inglehart, R., Foa, R., Peterson, C., & Welzel, C. (2008). Development, freedom, and rising happiness: A global perspective (1981–2007). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(4), 264–285.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Karabati, S., & Cemalcilar, Z. (2010). Values, materialism, and well-being: A study with Turkish university students. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31(4), 624–633.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kasser, T. (2002). The high price of materialism. Cambridge: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. 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(2), 410–422.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Keng, K. A., Jung, K., Jiuan, T. S., & Wirtz, J. (2000). The influence of materialistic inclination on values, life satisfaction and aspirations: An empirical analysis. Social Indicators Research, 49(3), 317–333.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Krekels, G., & Pandelaere, M. (2015). Dispositional greed. Personality and Individual Differences, 74(2), 225–230.

    Google Scholar 

  27. La Barbera, P. A., & Gürhan, Z. (1997). The role of materialism, religiosity, and demographics in subjective well-being. Psychology and Marketing, 14(1), 71–97.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Lane, R. E. (2000). The loss of happiness in market democracies. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Larsen, V., Sirgy, M. J., & Wright, N. D. (1999). Materialism: The construct, measures, antecedents, and consequences. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 3(2), 78–110.

    Google Scholar 

  30. McClelland, D. C. (1967). Achieving society. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. McClelland, D. C., Winter, D. G., & Winter, S. K. (1969). Motivating economic achievement. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. OECD (2013). OECD guidelines on measuring subjective well-being. Paris: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264191655.

  33. Ogden, H., & Venkat, R. (2001). Social comparison and possessions: Japan vs. Canada. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 13(2), 72–84.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Pieters, R. (2013). Bidirectional dynamics of materialism and loneliness: Not just a vicious cycle. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(4), 615–631.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Promislo, M. D., Giacalone, R. A., & Deckop, J. R. (2017). Assessing three models of materialism–postmaterialism and their relationship with well-being: A theoretical extension. Journal of Business Ethics, 143(3), 531–541.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Richins, M. L. (1987). Media, materialism, and human happiness. Advances in Consumer Research, 14(1), 352–356.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Richins, M. L. (1994). Special possessions and the expression of material values. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(3), 522–533.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Richins, M. L. (2004). The material values scale: Measurement properties and development of a short form. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(1), 209–219.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Richins, M. L. (2011). Materialism, transformation expectations, and spending: Implications for credit use. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 30(2), 141–156.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Richins, M. L., & Dawson, S. (1992). A consumer values orientation for materialism and its measurement: Scale development and validation. Journal of Consumer Research, 19(3), 303–316.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Richins, M. L., & Rudmin, F. W. (1994). Materialism and economic psychology. Journal of Economic Psychology, 15(2), 217–231.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Roberts, J. A., & Clement, A. (2007). Materialism and satisfaction with over-all quality of life and eight life domains. Social Indicators Research, 82(1), 79–92.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Roberts, J. A., Tanner, J., & Manolis, C. (2005). Materialism and the family structure-stress relation. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15(2), 183–190.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 482–499.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Sirgy, M. J. (1998). Materialism and quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 43(3), 227–260.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Sirgy, M. J. (2012). The psychology of quality of life: Hedonic well-being, life satisfaction, and eudaimonia. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Sirgy, M. J., Lee, D.-J., Larsen, V., & Wright, N. (1998). Satisfaction with material possessions and general well-being: The role of materialism. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction and Complaint, 11, 103–118.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Sirgy, M. J., Gurel Atay, E., Webb, D., Cicic, M., Husic-Mehmedovic, M., Ekici, A., Herrmann, A., Hegazy, I., Lee, D.-J., & Johar, J. S. (2013). Is materialism all that bad? Effects on satisfaction with material life, life satisfaction, and economic motivation. Social Indicators Research, 110(1), 349–366.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Veenhoven, R., & Hagerty, M. (2006). Rising happiness in nations 1946–2004: A reply to Easterlin. Social Indicators Research, 79(3), 421–436.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Vohs, K. (2015). Money priming can change people’s thoughts, feelings, motivations, and behaviors: An update on 10 years of experiments. Journal of Experimental Psychology, General, 144(4), e86–e93.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Vohs, K., Mead, N., & Goode, M. (2006). The psychological consequences of money. Science, 314(5802), 1154–1156.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Watson, J. J. (2003). The relationship of materialism to spending tendencies, saving, and debt. Journal of Economic Psychology, 24(6), 723–739.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Weiß, B., Das, M., Kapteyn, A., Bosnjak, M., & Schaurer, I. (in press). Open probability-based panels. Wiley StatsRef: Statistics Reference Online.

  54. Winter-Ebmer, R. (1994). Motivation for migration and economic success. Journal of Economic Psychology, 15(2), 269–284.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Wright, N. D., & Larsen, V. (1993). Materialism and life satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction, and Complaining Behavior, 6, 158–165.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Joseph Sirgy.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors identified on this page conducted the research reported in this paper independently and without financial support from any source. Similarly, publication of the paper will not accrue any financial benefit to any of the authors either separately or together.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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?

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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

Download citation

Keywords

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