Two Cheers For Materialism: Materialism, Well-Being, And How Material Goods Can Be Pursued To Promote Positive Outcomes

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Abstract

Does positivity toward and the pursuit of material goods lead to unhappiness? There is an extensive body of work confirming historical, religious, and cultural assumptions that endorsing materialistic attitudes is associated with a number of negative psychological outcomes, (e.g., Kasser & Ryan, Richins & Dawson, 1992; Christopher & Schlenker, 2004). These studies are highly cited and have led many researchers to claim that materialism causes unhappiness (e.g. Gurel-Atay, Sirgy, Cici & Husic, 2009; Kasser, 2002; Polak, & McCullough, 2007). However, in the present investigation, I will argue that this conclusion cannot be made based on the current empirical evidence, largely due to the correlational nature of the research, as well as confounds in both measures of materialism and well-being with socially desirable responding. Across nine studies, I will explore 1) alternative ways of investigating materialism and well-being via implicit methods 2) a new scale measuring intrinsic and extrinsic motives behind the pursuit of material goods and 3) how material goods can be used to promote emotion and pain regulation under stressful situations. I will argue that the results of these studies indicate that materialism does not independently predict nor cause negative outcomes, there can be intrinsic and flourishing ways of pursuing material goods, and material goods can help us to recover from unpleasant emotional and physically painful experiences.

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2012-08-20
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materialism; well-being; implicit attitudes
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Ferguson, Melissa J.
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Frank, Robert H
Gilovich, Thomas Dashiff
Goldstein, Michael H.
Degree Discipline
Psychology
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Ph. D., Psychology
Degree Level
Doctor of Philosophy
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Government Document
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dissertation or thesis
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