Mary B. Ballou
William Sanchez, Mark L. Byers
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
Bouve College of Health Sciences. Department of Counseling & Applied Educational Psychology
counseling psychology, materialism, well-being
There is a long-held belief that high levels of materialism negatively impact emotional well-being. This belief is supported by 25 years of empirical research which consistently shows a moderate negative association between materialism and emotional well-being. Contemporary American society, in particular, is widely viewed as highly materialistic, and theorists across a number of disciplines have argued that Americans are becoming increasingly orientated towards materialism as a result of the current economic system. This study sought to explore this theory by examining the relationships between materialism and depressive symptoms and materialism and well-being, both longitudinally and cross-sectionally, over a period of 12 years. Data are from 1136 participants of the Longitudinal Study of Generations (Bengston, 2005), a large-scale study of multi-generational, California families who completed questionnaires at 5 times points from 1985 to 1997. Materialism was measured using Bengston's (1975) adaptation of Rokeach's (1973) Values Survey, depression was measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Inventory (Radloff, 1977), and well-being was measured using Bradburn's Affect Balance Scale (1969). Multiple regression and hierarchical linear modeling were used to address the following research questions: 1) Is there a significant relationship between materialism and depressive symptoms at each data point, and are these relationships modified by generation status? 2) Is there a significant relationship between materialism and well-being at each data point, and are these relationships modified by generation status? 3) Is materialism associated with initial level of depressive symptoms and its rate of change, and does the effect of materialism on depressive symptoms differ depending on respondents' generation status? 4) Is materialism associated with initial level of well-being and its rate of change, and does the effect of materialism on well-being differ depending on respondents' generation status? 5) Are well-being, depressive symptoms, and generation status associated with initial materialism level and its rate of change? Results showed a significant association between higher levels of materialism and higher levels of depressive symptoms in 1985, but not at subsequent time points. In contrast, higher levels of materialism were significantly associated with lower levels of well-being at four of five time points. Results failed to show a change in average level of depressive symptoms or well-being over time. In contrast, average level of materialism significantly decreased over time. Limitations of the study as well as implications for future research design and measurement are explored in the discussion section.
Jennifer Marie Smith, Ed.M.
Smith, Jennifer Marie, "A longitudinal and cross-sectional examination of the relationships between materialism and well-being and materialism and depressive symptoms" (2010). Counseling Psychology Dissertations. Paper 17. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20000279
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