Overabundance and privation as predictors of materialism in young adults

  • Magdalena Poraj-Weder The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Department of the Psychology of Development and Education
Keywords: materialism; deprivation roots of materialism; excess; overabundance; privation; poverty


The aim of the present study was to determine how the social and material status of the family of origin and the degree of satisfaction of material needs during childhood (excessive vs. insufficient) engender materialism in young adults. The participants in the study were 346 individuals aged 20 to 35. To measure materialism, the following scales were used: the Material Values Scale by Richins; the Priorities in Life Scale; and the Motives for Making Money Scale by Srivastav, Locke, and Bartol. Socioeconomic variables were measured with the author’s own tool. The results indicate that the low socioeconomic status of the family of origin and the experience of privation in early life increase the attractiveness of material goods and money, and thus contribute to the formation of the materialistic orientation. The experience of overabundance during childhood, by contrast, is negatively correlated with materialism. This, however, does not mean that being spoiled has no negative consequences. It appears that people who were showered with material goods in childhood lose the ability to appreciate their abundance. They feel they do not have enough material goods, even if they have more than others.


Arrindell, W. A., Sanavio, E., Aguilar, G., Sica, C., Hatzichristou, C., Eisemann, M., Reci-nos, L. A., Gaszner, P., Peter, P., Battagliese, G., Kállai, J., & van Ende, J. (1999). The development of a short form of the EMBU: Its appraisal with students in Greece, Guatemala, Hungary and Italy. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 613-628.
Bauman, Z. (2003). Razem osobno [Liquid love: On the frailty of human bonds]. Cracow, Poland: Wydawnictwo Literackie.
Bedyńska, S., & Książek, M. (2012). Statystyczny drogowskaz 3. Praktyczny przewodnik wykorzystania modeli regresji oraz równań strukturalnych [Statistical signpost 3: Practical guide to use the models of regressions and structural equations]. Warsaw, Poland: Wydawnictwo Akademickie „Sedno”.
Belk, R. W. (1985). Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world. Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 265-280.
Burroughs, J. E., & Rindfleisch, A. (2002). Materialism and well-being: A conflicting values perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 29, 348-370.
Burroughs, J. E., Chaplin, L. N., Pandelaere, M., Norton, M. I., Ordabayeva, A. G., & Dinauer, L. (2013). Using motivation theory to develop a transformative consumer research agenda for reducing materialism in society. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 32(1), 18-31.
Chaplin, L. N., Hill, R. P., & John, D. R. (2014). Poverty and materialism: A look at impoverished versus affluent children. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 33(1), 78-92.
Flouri, E. (1999). An integrated model of consumer materialism: Can economic socialization and maternal values predict materialistic attitudes in adolescents? Journal of Socio-Economics, 28, 707-724.
Flouri, E. (2004). Exploring the relationship between mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices and children’s materialist values. Journal of Economic Psychology, 25(6), 743-752.
Futrelle, D. (2006). Can money buy happiness? MONEY, 35(8), 127-131.
Gąsiorowska, A. (2010). Biedni czy bogaci? Wpływ dochodu i postaw wobec pieniędzy na ocenę własnej sytuacji finansowej [Poor or rich? The influence of income and attitudes to money on self-perceived financial situation]. In A. M. Zawadzka & M. Górnik-Durose (Eds.), Życiew konsumpcji, konsumpcja w życiu [Life in consumption, consumption in life] (pp. 177-193). Gdańsk, Poland: Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne.
Ger, G., & Belk, R. (1996). Cross-cultural differences in materialism. Journal of Economic Psychology, 17, 55-77.
Górnik-Durose, M. (1993). A psychological picture of the Polish consumer in the changing economic situation. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 24, 25-30.
Górnik-Durose, M. (2002). Psychologiczne aspekty posiadania – między instrumentalnością a społeczną użytecznością dóbr materialnych [Psychological aspects of possession: Between the instrumentality and social utility of material goods]. Katowice, Poland: University of Silesia Press.
Górnik-Durose, M. (2007). Nowe oblicze materializmu, czyli z deszczu pod rynnę [The new face of materialism, or out of the frying pan into the fire]. Psychologia. Edukacja i Społeczeństwo, 4, 211-226.
Górnik-Durose, M., & Dziedzic, K. (2013). Specyfika środowiska rodzinnego a orientacja na cele materialistyczne osób o różnych doświadczeniach generacyjnych [The specificity of the family environment and orientation towards materialistic goals in individuals with different generational experience]. Psychologia Wychowawcza, 3, 22-37.
Griffin, M., Babin, B., & Christensen, F. (2004). A cross-cultural investigation of the materialism construct: Assessing the Richins and Dawson’s materialism scale in Denmark, France, and Russia. Journal of Business Research, 57(8), 893-900.
Inglehart, R. (1977). The silent revolution: Changing values and political styles among Western publics. Princeton, NJ, US: Princeton University Press.
Ipsos MORI. Social Research Institute in partnership with Dr Agnes Nairn (2011). Children’s well--being in UK, Sweden and Spain: The role of inequality and materialism. A qualitative study. Retrieved in September 2014 from https://www.ipsos-mori.com/DownloadPublication/1441_sri-unicef-role-of-inequality-and-materialism-june-2011.pdf.
Kasser T. (2002). The high price of materialism. Cambridge, MA, US: MIT Press.
Kasser, T. (2010). Materialism and its alternatives. In A. M. Zawadzka & M. Górnik-Durose (Eds.), Życie w konsumpcji, konsumpcja w życiu [Life in consumption, consumption in life] (pp. 127-141). Gdańsk, Poland: Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne.
Kasser, T., & Ryan, M. R. (1993). A dark side of the American Dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 410-422.
Kasser, T., & Ryan, M. R. (1996). Further examining the American Dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 280-287.
Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M., Couchman, C. E., & Sheldon, K. M. (2003). Materialistic values: Their causes and consequences. In T. Kasser & A. D. Kanner (Eds.), Psychology and consumer culture. The struggle for a good life in a materialistic world (pp. 11-28). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.
Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M., Zax, M., & Sameroff, A. J. (1995). The relations of maternal and social environments to late adolescents’ materialistic and prosocial values. Developmental Psychology, 31, 907-914.
Kilbourne, W. E. (1991). The impact of the symbolic dimensions of possession on individual potential: A phenomenological perspective. In F. W. Rudmin (Ed.), To have possessions: A handbook on ownership and property (Special Issue). Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 445-456.
Kilbourne, W., Grünhagen, M., & Foley, A. (2005). A cross-cultural examination of the relationship between materialism and individual values. Journal of Economic Psychology, 16, 624-641.
Maison, D. (2013). Polak w świecie finansów [A Pole in the world of finance]. Warsaw, Poland: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.
Maison, D. (2014a). Values and lifestyle segmentation of Poles 55+ and its implications for consumers’ attitudes and behavior. Management and Business Administration. Central Europe, 22(4). DOI: 10.7206/mba.ce.2084-3356.
Maison D. (2014b). Polka niejedno ma imię. O zróżnicowaniu współczesnych Polek [A Polish woman has many names. The diversity of contemporary Polish women]. In K. Pawlikowska & D. Maison (Eds.), Polki. Spełnione Profesjonalistki, Rodzinne Panie Domu czy Obywatelki Świata? [Polish women. Fulfilled Professionals, Family Women, or Citizens of the World?] (pp. 17-49). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo WUW.
Maison, D., & Sekścińska, K. (2014). Co jest źródłem szczęścia? Zadowolenie z życia a obiektywne i subiektywne wskaźniki sytuacji materialnej [What is the source of happiness? Satisfaction with life and objective and subjective indicators of financial situation]. Marketing i Rynek, 21(2), 15-24.
Marek, T. (1989). Analiza skupień w badaniach empirycznych. Metody SAHN [Cluster analysis in empirical studies. SAHN methods]. Warsaw, Poland: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.
McCracken, G. (1986). Culture and consumption: A theoretical account of the structure and movement of the cultural meaning of consumer goods. Journal of Consumer Research, 13, 71-84.
Moschis, G. P., Brodlieb, A. M., Kwai Fatt, C., & Pizzutti, C. (2013). Effects of family structure on materialism and compulsive consumption: A life course study in Brazil. Journal of Research for Consumers, 23, 66-96.
OECD (2008). Handbook on constructing composite indicators. Methodology and user guide. Retrieved in August 2014 from http://www.oecd.org/std/42495745.pdf.
Plopa, M. (2008). Kwestionariusz Retrospektywnej Oceny Postaw Rodziców [Retrospective Par-ental Attitudes Assessment Questionnaire]. Warsaw, Poland: Wydawnictwo Vizja.
Poraj-Weder, M. (2013). Czy wychowujemy do materializmu? O związkach postaw rodzicielskich z materializm młodych dorosłych [Do we bring up for materialism? The relations of parental attitudes to materialism in young adults]. Psychologia Wychowawcza, 4, 46-63.
Poraj-Weder, M. (2015). O źródłach materializmu. Wzorce osobowe i ekonomiczne w rodzinie a materializm młodych dorosłych [On the sources of materialism. Personal and economic role models in the family and materialism in young adults] (unpublished doctoral thesis). Warsaw, Poland: Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw.
Richins, M. L. (2004). The Material Values Scale: Measurement properties and development of a short form. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 209-220.
Richins, M. L., & Chaplin, L. N. (2015). Material parenting: How the use of goods in parenting fosters materialism in the next generation. Journal of Consumer Research, 41, 1333-1357.
Richins, M. L., & Dawson, S. (1992). A consumer values orientation for materialism and its measurement: Scale development and validation. Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 303-316.
Rindfleisch, A., & Burroughs, J. E. (2004). Terrifying thoughts, terrible materialism? Contemplations on a terror management account of materialism and consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14(3), 219-224.
Rindfleisch, A., Burroughs, J. E., & Denton, F. (1997). Family structure, materialism, and compulsive consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 23, 31-325.
Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (t. 25, s. 1-65). London: Academic Press.
Schwartz, S. H. (2006). Basic human values: Theory measurement and applications. Revue Francaise de Sociologie, 47(4), 929-968.
Srivastava, A., Locke, E., & Bartol, K. (2001). Money and subjective well-being: It’s not the money, it’s the motives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(6), 959-971.
Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidel, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics. Boston, MA, US: Pearson Education, Inc.
Tobacyk, J. J., Babin, B. J., Attaway, J. S., Socha, S., Shows, D., & James, K. (2011). Materialism through the eyes of Polish and American consumers. Journal of Business Research, 64, 944-950.
Wąsowicz-Kiryło, G. (2013). Postawy wobec pieniędzy. Pomiar – struktura – determinanty [Attitudes towards money: Measurement – structure – determinants]. Warsaw, Poland: Difin.
Zawadzka, A. M. & Dykielska-Bieck, D. (2013). Wartości rodziców i tendencje materialistyczne dzieci. Chowanna, 235-254.