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Consumerism and Well-Being in India and the UK: Identity Projection and Emotion Regulation as Underlying Psychological Processes

Abstract

A growing body of evidence shows that a materialistic value orientation is linked to lower well-being (Dittmar 2008; Kasser & Kanner, 2004), but we know little about factors that influence this association, or linked behavioural tendencies, particularly in developing countries, such as India. Extending our previous research (Dittmar 2005a, b; Dittmar et al. 2007), we develop a model in which endorsement of materialistic values is linked to buying motives focused on identity projection and emotion regulation, which, in turn, are linked to lower well-being and dysfunctional consumer behaviour. We tested these hypothesised associations in surveys with 236 younger and older adults in India and the UK, and found that they were consistent with our model, showing few country or generational differences. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed, as well as directions for future research.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Figures were calculated at £1 = 83.4 Indian Rupees, the exchange rate current at the time of data collection.

  2. 2.

    Details of the CFA, including actual items and factor loadings, can be obtained from the first author.

  3. 3.

    Two co-variances of error terms were allowed, because the items in question were close in semantic content.

  4. 4.

    We used the original 18-item materialism scale, which contains 6 reverse and 12 positive items. We calculated two acquiescence scores, one the mean of the 6 reverse and the first 6 positive items and the other the mean of the 6 reverse and remaining 6 positive items, and then used the mean across both as each individual’s acquiescence measure to be used as a control variable for all core constructs. This is a defensible measure of acquiescence, because all rating scales in the study used the same 6-point Likert scale disagree-agree format.

  5. 5.

    All income data were converted into £K and then natural log-transformed to reduce skew and kurtosis.

  6. 6.

    The utility motive showed only one weak link with materialism in young UK adults, r = −0.25, p < 0.05, and the quality motive showed one correlation with life satisfaction in younger Indians, r = 0.32, p < 0.05, but no corresponding link with materialism, r = 0.12, ns.

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Acknowledgement

We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to Tanya Lyons, Rebecca Grist, and Alice Owens for their help with data entry in the UK.

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Correspondence to Helga Dittmar.

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Dittmar, H., Kapur, P. Consumerism and Well-Being in India and the UK: Identity Projection and Emotion Regulation as Underlying Psychological Processes. Psychol Stud 56, 71–85 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12646-011-0065-2

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Keywords

  • Consumerism
  • Identity
  • Materialistic values
  • Buying motives
  • Well-being
  • Dysfunctional consumer behaviour