Quality of Life in Singapore: an Analysis of the Influence of Materialism and Religiosity

ABSTRACT - Over the last few decades, many studies have been conducted on the quality of life (QOL) in various cities and countries. Interest on the QOL dates back as early as 1939 (Schalock, 1989). However, most of these studies were carried out in Western countries like the United States and Europe (Dolliver 2001). More recently, QOL studies were conducted in various Asian countries. These include Hong Kong (Lee, 1992 and Shen, 1992), Korea (Kim and Shin, 1982), Thailand (Leelakulthanit, Day and Walters, 1991) and Singapore (Kau and Wang 1995; Kau, Jung, Tan and Wirtz, 2000).



Citation:

Kau Ah Keng, William R. Swinyard, and Phua Hui Yin (2002) ,"Quality of Life in Singapore: an Analysis of the Influence of Materialism and Religiosity", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 282-283.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Pages 282-283

QUALITY OF LIFE IN SINGAPORE: AN ANALYSIS OF THE INFLUENCE OF MATERIALISM AND RELIGIOSITY

Kau Ah Keng, National University of Singapore, Singapore

William R. Swinyard, Brigham Young University, U.S.A.

Phua Hui Yin, National University of Singapore, Singapore

ABSTRACT -

Over the last few decades, many studies have been conducted on the quality of life (QOL) in various cities and countries. Interest on the QOL dates back as early as 1939 (Schalock, 1989). However, most of these studies were carried out in Western countries like the United States and Europe (Dolliver 2001). More recently, QOL studies were conducted in various Asian countries. These include Hong Kong (Lee, 1992 and Shen, 1992), Korea (Kim and Shin, 1982), Thailand (Leelakulthanit, Day and Walters, 1991) and Singapore (Kau and Wang 1995; Kau, Jung, Tan and Wirtz, 2000).

Despite the great interest on QOL, there is still no consensus on the definition of QOL. There are at least two ways of looking at this concept. In the objective dimension, QOL is the degree to which living conditions meet observable criteria of the good life (Veenhoven 1995). It is assumed that physical environment, housing, health, education and other observable and quantifiable indicators are valid measures of QOL. On the other hand, the subjective dimensions are more related to the underlying mental states of the individuals. As such, subjective QOL is how people look at their lives personally, such as how secured they think their income is or how satisfied are they with their health, education, income, living conditions and so on (Veenhoven 1995). Based on this, satisfaction with life and the extent of happiness are some of the common measures of subective QOL. This study will adopt the subjective measure of QOL.

Perception of the quality of life may be influenced by a host of factors. Kau and Kwon (1999) examined how perception of quality of life may differ between people with different demographic background. In this paper, the influence of materialism and religiousity on the assessment of quality of life will be examined.

As a construct, materialism may be examined at either the socio-cultural (e.g. Inglehart, 1981) or the individual level (e.g. Belk, 1985; Richins and Dawson, 1992). In this study, the measures proposed by Richins and Dawson were adopted. They defined materialism as consisting of three themes or dimensions. Acquisition Centrality posits that individuals place possessions and their acquisition at the center of their lives. Acquisitions as the Pursuit of Happiness assume that acquisition is a means of achieving happiness. Finally, Possessions as Defining Success imply that individuals judge their own and others’ success by the number and quality of possessions accumulated.

A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things and is multidimensional in nature (King 1967; King and Hunt 1969). Religiosity is defined as the degree to which beliefs in specific religious values and ideals are held and practiced by an individual. Religiosity is important, as it is capable of influencing an individual cognitively and behaviorally (Delener 1994). Different researchers have different approach to assessing religiosity. One popular approach is to view religiosity either as a means to reach self-centered ends, or as an end in itself. The most common expression of this view has been Allport’s (1950) concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness. According to Apport and Ross (1967), the intrinsically religious people are genuinely committed to their faith, while the extrinsically religious people are more self serving. Batson (1976) and Batson and Ventis (1982) introduced a third dimension of being religious, and called it "religion as quest". They suggested that this dimension involved openly facing complex, existential questions (questions of life’s meaning, of death, and of relations with others) and resisting clear-cut answers. In this paper, the three dimensions of religiosity: intrinsic religiosity, extrinsic religiosity and religion as quest are examined.

The variable QOL was operationalized as individuals’ perceptions of their satisfaction with life as a whole. Andrews and Withey’s (1976) Delighted-Terrible scale was adapted. The respondents were given seven explicit response alternatives, ranging from"Delighted" at one end to "Terrible" at the other. A score was assigned to each alternative, with 1="Terrible" and 7="Delighted". Thus, a higher score indicated a higher level of life satisfaction.

The sample in this study consisted of individuals residing in Singapore, who were proficient in the English language as the questionnaire was printed in English. The respondents were contacted through both on a convenient basis as well as through the shopping-mall method. They were given two options to return the questionnaires. The first option was for them to complete and return the questionnaire immediately. Alternatively, they were given envelopes to mail back the questionnaires after completion. About 400 questionnaires were distributed and 314 were returned, resulting in a response rate of about 79 percent. However, only 293 were found usable.

Multiple regression analysis was applied to examine the relationship between two independent variables (materialism and religiosity) and life satisfaction. The analysis confirmed that people who were more likely to define their own and others’ success in terms of possession and/or to seek happiness via acquisition have a lower level of life satisfaction. As for religiosity, the results indicated that people who were high in intrinsic religiosity have a higher level of life satisfaction. In contrast, people who were high in the "quest" attitude were found to have a lower level of life satisfaction. Although materialism and religiosiy were noted to have an impact on the life satisfaction of Singapore residents, the influences were found to be not as great as have been exhibited in the western cultures.

REFERENCES

Allport G.W. (1950). The individual and his religion: A psychological interpretation. New York: Macmillan.

Allport G.W., & Ross, J.M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 423-443.

Batson C.D. (1976). Religion as Prosocial. Agent or Double Agent? Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 15(1), 29-45.

Batson C.D., & W.L. Ventis (1982). The religious experience. A social-psychological perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Kau, A K and S H Wang (1995). Assessing Quality of Life in Singapore: An Exploratory Study. Social Indicators Research, 35, 71-91.

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Kim, O.D. and D. C. Shin.(1982). Perception of QOL in An Industrializing Country: The Case of the Republic of Korea. Social Indicators Research 10, 297-317.

Lee, P.S. (1992). The Meaning of Satisfaction in the Quality of Life Study. In The Development of Social Indicators Research in Chinese Societies. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 119-129.

Leelakulthanit, O., R. Day and R. Walters (1991). Investigating the Relationship Between Marketing and Overall Satisfaction With Life in a Developing Country. Journal of Macromarketing 11 (1), Spring, 3-20.

Shen, S. (1992). On Quality of Life in Hong Kong. In The Development of Social Indicators Research in Chinese Societies. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 129-146.

Richins M.L., & S. Dawson (1992). A Consumer Values Orientation for Materialism and Its Measurement. Scale Development and Validation. Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 303-316.

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Authors

Kau Ah Keng, National University of Singapore, Singapore
William R. Swinyard, Brigham Young University, U.S.A.
Phua Hui Yin, National University of Singapore, Singapore



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002



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