Materialism and Well-Being: A Conflicting Values Perspective

James E. Burroughs, Aric Rindfleisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Over the past decade, materialism has emerged as an important research topic. Materialism Is generally viewed as the value placed on the acquisition of material objects. Previous research finds that high levels of material values are negatively associated with subjective well-being. However, relatively little is known about the relationship between materialism and well-being within the broader context of an individual's value system. In this article, we examine the relationship between material values and other Important life values. In addition, we draw on values theory to examine a novel conceptualization of why materialism is antithetical to well-being. Specifically, our theory proposes that the individual orientation of material values conflicts with collective-oriented values, such as family values and religious values. This state of values conflict creates psychological tension, and this tension Is associated with a reduced sense of well-being. Using both a survey sample of 373 adults from across the United States and an experimental study of 120 college students, we find considerable support for this conflicting values perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-370
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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