The relationship between materialism and personal well-being: a meta-analysis

Helga Dittmar, Rod Bond, Megan Hurst, Tim Kasser

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This meta-analysis investigates the relationship between individuals’ materialistic orientation and their personal well-being. Theoretical approaches in psychology agree that prioritizing money and associated aims is negatively associated with individuals’ well-being but differ in their implications for whether this is invariably the case. To address these and other questions, we examined 753 effect sizes from 259 independent samples. Materialism was associated with significantly lower well-being for the most widely used, multifaceted measures (materialist values and beliefs, r = −.19, ρ = −.24; relative importance of materialist goals, r = −.16, ρ = −.21), more than for measures assessing emphasis on money alone (rs = −.08 to −.11, ρs = −.09 to −.14). The relationship also depended on type of well-being outcome, with largest effects for risky health and consumer behaviors and for negative self-appraisals (rs = −.28 to −.44, ρs = −.32 to −.53) and weakest effects for life satisfaction and negative affect (rs = −.13 to −.15, ρs = −.17 to −.18). Moderator analyses revealed that the strength of the effect depended on certain demographic factors (gender and age), on value context (study/work environments that support materialistic values and cultures that emphasize affective autonomy), and on cultural economic indicators (economic growth and wealth differentials). Mediation analyses suggested that the negative link may be explained by poor psychological need satisfaction. We discuss implications for the measurement of materialist values and the need for theoretical and empirical advances to explore underlying processes, which likely will require more experimental, longitudinal, and developmental research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-924
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


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