The safety of objects: Materialism, existential insecurity, and brand connection

Aric Rindfleisch, James E. Burroughs, Nancy Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past 2 decades, a large body of research has examined how materialism is formed and how this value influences well-being. Although these studies have substantially contributed to our understanding of materialism, they shed little light on this value's relationship to consumer behavior. Our research seeks to address this gap by examining the influence of materialism on self- and communal-brand connections. We ground our conceptualization in terror management theory and suggest that materialistic individuals form strong connections to their brands as a response to existential insecurity. We test this premise by conducting a national survey among 314 adults as well as an experiment among 125 college students. Our results provide broad support for our thesis and suggest that the fear of death encourages materialistic individuals to form strong connections with their brands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'The safety of objects: Materialism, existential insecurity, and brand connection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this