Who am I? The relationship between self‐concept uncertainty and materialism

Authors:
Valeria Noguti, Alexandra L. Bokeyar
Published Online:
02 Jan 2014
DOI:
10.1002/ijop.12031
Pages:
323–333
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 49 Issue 5

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It is well accepted that materialism may result in a number of negative consequences, hence the importance of improving its understanding. In this paper, we propose that materialism negatively relates to self‐concept uncertainty. Uncertainty about oneself is aversive and those feeling uncertain may use the possession of material objects as a way to reduce the uncertainty. Inasmuch as material objects can serve as concrete signs of self‐worth, self‐concept uncertainty can therefore relate to more materialism. Over two studies, one in Australia and the other in the US, with a total of 390 participants, our research demonstrates that lower clarity about one's self‐concept associates with higher levels of materialism. While this result holds for both genders, this relationship is considerably stronger for women compared to men. We also find that lower self‐concept clarity relates to higher compulsive buying. We further demonstrate that materialism relates to higher positive moods during shopping, and also relates to higher negative moods after shopping, more notably negative moods towards what was purchased. This effect is significant even when controlling for general affective states.

© 2014 International Union of Psychological Science