Tuesday, July 20, 2010 Brand and Product Management News
The Roots of Materialism Examined

To what degree does family life influence an individual's sway towards materialism? And, do more things result in increased happiness?

These questions are examined in an article published by the American Psychological Association on Consumerism and Its Discontents. In the article, the organization digs deep through the research to find the reasons why some individuals develop strong materialistic values and others do not, and which individuals are happier as a result.

As a launching off point, APA references a 1997 Journal of Consumer Research study conducted by Associate Professor of Marketing, Aric Rindfleisch, which found that young people whose parents were undergoing or had undergone divorce or separation were more prone to developing materialistic values later in life than those from intact homes.

Another article by Rindfleisch and Assistant Professor of Commerce at the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce, James E. Burroughs, has shown that the "unhappiest materialists" are those whose materialistic and higher-order values are most conflicted. In 2002, Rindfleisch and Burroughs gauged people's levels of stress, materialistic values and prosocial values in the domains of family, religion and community - in keeping with the theory of psychologist Shalom Schwartz, that some values unavoidably conflict with one another. The pair also ascertained the degree of conflict people felt when making a decision between the two value domains. According to Rindfleisch and Burroughs, the unhappiest people were those with the most conflict - those who reported high prosocial and high materialistic values. The other three groups - those low in materialism and high in prosocial values, those low in prosocial values and high in materialism, and those lukewarm in both arenas - reported similar, but lower levels of life stress.

To view the complete article, Consumerism and Its Discontentsclick here.

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