Materialism and Care For Others


John Williams and Wendy Bryce (1992) ,"Materialism and Care For Others", in SV - Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism, eds. Floyd W. Rudmin and Marsha Richins, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 149-157.

Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism, 1992      Pages 149-157


John Williams, Department of Marketing, University of Otago

Wendy Bryce, Department of Marketing, University of Otago


The concept of materialism has attracted considerable criticism amongst consumer researchers, environmentalists, economists, political and religious leaders, social commentators and philosophers. Inherent in criticism of materialism is the belief that excessive attention to material goods precludes one valuing non-material constructs, such as spirituality, interpersonal relationships, love, peace, etc. This study attempts to discover the relationship between caring for objects and caring for people. It asks the question "Is it possible to value both people and objects highly?', or "If one values objects highly, must one automatically value people less?". it was hypothesised that individuals who scored high on a measure of materialism would, compared to those who scored lower on this measure, (1) score lower on a measure of helpfulness, and (2) higher on a measure of selfishness. Measures of the psychological constructs of materialism, selfishness and helpfulness were applied to a sample of final year undergraduate students attending Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand. No significant evidence was found to support the hypotheses that materialism is positively related to selfishness and negatively related to helping, as operationalised.

These results should serve to focus future research on the refinement of measures of care for others. In this study, helpfulness and (un)selfishness were used as measures of care for others. If replication of this study with alternative or refined measures of these constructs repeats these findings a reconceptualisation of the relationship between materialism and care for others will be required.


Materialism is often regarded as "bad", i.e. to have negative consequences for the materialistic individual, the people with which they interact, and society at large. The underlying assumption of this viewpoint is that if one values material objects, or consumption per so, one cannot value interpersonal relationships. If it were found that one can be highly materialistic and also highly concerned for others' welfare, much of the criticisms of materialism would be refuted.

As Figure 1 (overleaf) portrays the question is whether it is possible for individuals to move freely throughout "caring space". For example, can a materialistic individual exist at point A (valuing objects and other people highly), or are they constrained to exist on a negatively sloped line between points B and C, wherein the more one cares for objects, the less one cares for people, and vice versa. Alternatives might be that (for example in the Buddhist Eightfold Way) in order to truly care for others one must not be merely neutral towards objects, but positively reject them (represented by a line from point D to point Q.

Conversely, a more radical view of materialism might be that the materialistic individual does not merely feel neutral towards others, rather he or she dislikes others in general, represented by a line from point D to E, or in a less radical view, from B to E.

This study attempts to answer these questions empirically, through an examination of the intra-individual relationship between materialism and caring for others. We next review the relevant literature concerning these constructs, followed by a discussion of the empirical research undertaken.

A: High Care for Objects and People

B: High Care for People, Indifference to Objects

C: High Care for People, Indifference to Objects

D: High Care for People, Rejection of for Objects

E: High Care for Objects, Rejection of People





There is debate over what materialism is, and how to operationally define it. The two main conceptualisations are presented below, following Belk (1984b) and Richins and Dawson(1991). Materialism is defined by Belk (1984b, p. 291) as:

The importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions. At the highest levels of materialism, such possessions assume a central place in a person's life and are believed to provide the greatest sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Belk (1985) refers to the dimensions of materialism as being general personality traits, these being:

- possessiveness

- nongenerosity

- envy

Belk's materialism scales have exhibited low reliability, although work is under way in refining this measure (Belk and Ger 1991). Cronbach's alpha in 12 separate data collections reported to date has ranged from 0.09 to 0.81, with a median reliability of 0.54 for the individual subscales. The summed scales ranged from 0.48 to 0.71. with a median of 0.62 (Richins and Dawson 1991).

Richins and Dawson (1991), in developing their measure of materialism, view materialism as a value, as it is subject to change over time in response to internal and environmental factors. They define the domain of materialism as comprising of:

- a motivational component which reflects the intended and actual use of material objects as a means of social recognition and to symbolise one's personal success (i.e. use as a status symbol);

- an expectation or aspirational component concerning the extent to which an individual believes that the acquisition of material object will lead to personal happiness and enjoyment of life;

- an affective component of the degree to which the individual actually does find possession to be a source of satisfaction;

- the degree to which objects serve a central part of the individual's life.

The value approach of Richins and Dawson addresses the concept of materialism more directly, rather than Balks' approach, which deals with mainly person-person relationships which may or may not be related to (but not part of) materialism. For example, Belk (1984) found negative correlations between happiness and his envy subscalse this is a correlation between happiness and envy, not between happiness and materialism. Rudmin (ACR vol 17) compared personality data with Belk's scales to argue a link between materialism and nonsocialness, this is not surprising when the materialism instrument measures envy, possesiveness and nongenerosity.

In addition to the conceptual clarity of Richins and Dawson (1991) view of materialism, their scale also shows superior reliability. Cronbach's alphas ranged from 0.71 to 0.83 for the suhscales, and 0.80 to 0.88 for the summed measure.

The above authors investigated the relationship between materialism and self centredness when developing their scales. They included Belk's nongenerosity scale in one of their surveys and found that the correlation with their overall materialism scale was .25 (p<.001). Furthermore, respondents were also asked to imagine they had been given $20,000, and were asked to indicate how much they would spend in six different categories:

Buy things I want or need

Give to church organisation or charity

Give or lend to relatives or friends


Pay off debts

Savings or investments


It was found that respondents high in materialism (n = 91) spent more than those low in materialism (n = 85) for "buy things I need', and less on "give to church...", Give or lend ... " and Travel (all significant at .05 level).

Respondents who chose 'warm relationships with others' as important' scored lower in materialism than respondents who did not choose this value. The authors note, however, that trying to measure such a complex and involving concept as the value one places on relationships with others using a single (ranked) item is unsatisfactory from a reliability perspective (Richins and Dawson 1991, referencing Nunnally 1978). In addition, the two major measures of materialism are both self-report measures, although it must be recognised that behavioral measures cannot be developed until there is general agreement as to what behaviours would constitute materialism.


"Caring for Others" has been investigated by social psychologists using the labels "pro-social behaviour", and "altruism". Pro-social behaviour includes:

"those acts of helpfulness, charitability, self-sacrifice, and courage in which the possibility of reward from the recipient is presumed to be minimal or nonexistent and in which, on the face of it, pro-social behaviour is engaged in for it's own sake" (D.L. Rosenhan in Wisps (1978), ch 5).

Such behaviour includes the specific areas of: "positive behaviours such as sympathy, sharing and helping" (Eisenberg 1982, p.2), and

'the responses which have been subsumed under the heading of pro-social behaviour we conceptualize as rescue, sharing and donation" (Karniol in Eisenberg 1982, p. 252).

Two pro-social behaviours were investigated in this study: helping behaviour, measured by the response to a request for help; and selfishness/sharing, measured by the proportion of items allocated to self vs. other in a free-response question.


The type of helping behaviour which exhibits care for others is labelled altruistic, where one expects no reward for helping. What motivates people to engage in altruistic behaviour has been the subject of much debate among behavioural scientists. The basic problem is that by definition altruism has no reward and also by definition a behaviour cannot be learned unless there is a reward for engaging in that behaviour (or a punishment for not engaging in it). The solution (of course) is that there are rewards for altruistic behaviour, such as social approval and self-satisfaction. This does not explain, however, why some people will help in a given situation, and others won't. If social norms were the determinants of behaviour, everyone belonging to the same reference group would react in the same way. Similarly, the role of situational factors has been investigated (number of bystanders, the role of authority figures, responsibility of the victim for their own plight) and, while promising, still does not explain differences in individual responses. The history of research into helping behaviour was reviewed by Krebs (1970), who found that (in the studies he reviewed):

subjects were more likely to help someone they like more, someone who was more similar to themselves, and someone who was more dependent, particularly when the dependency was externally caused rather than internally motivated. Helping behaviour was also a function of conformity to groups standards (Mehrabian and Epstein 1972).

However, Krebs concluded that:

"Considered as a whole, no general conclusions can be drawn about personality traits of benefactors (Krebs 1970, p. 285).

The search for attributes of individuals which influence altruistic behaviour had thus been relatively fruitless up to the early 1970's. Smithson, Amato and Pearce (1983) reviewed available research a decade later and found:

"studies in this area have considered both demographics characteristics of individuals such as age (Green and Schneider, 1974), social class (DePaima, 1974), sex and race (Wisps and Freshley, 1971), and urban versus rural background (Weiner, 1976); and stable, intrapsychic constructs such as personal norms (Schwartz, 1977), empathy (Arontreed, 1970), self-concept (Trimakas and Nicolay, 1974), values (Staub, 1974), belief in a just world (Lerner, 1975), self-concern (Liebhart, 1972) ideological affiliation (Ehlert, Ehlert and Merrens, 1973), political orientation (Gaertner, 1973), self-labelling (Kraut, 1973), self-esteem (Rudestam, Richards and Garrison, 1971), and locus of control (Lerner and Reavy, 1975). Two of the most appealing clusters of studies, with both theoretical development and empirical support, revolve around the concepts of personal norms and empathy.' (Smithson, Amato and Pearce, 1983).

Measures used to study helping behaviour have ranged from the "bystander intervention' studies precipitated by Latans and Darley (1968), which involved simulated emergencies where 'victims' cry out for help, through an opportunity to return a lost wallet or help pick up items from a broken shopping bag, to simply giving the time to someone who asks for it on the street.

As mentioned above, the personality trait which has shown the most (some would claim the only) success in predicting helping behaviour is emotional empathy. This trait has also been used to explain sharing/selfishness behaviour. The role of empathy will be discussed below, after we have examined the conceptualisation and mediators of selfishness and sharing.


Most studies of selfishness and sharing by social psychologists have involved the developmental study of the Piagetian concept of egocentrism in young children. Piaget's explanation of selfishness is that it is a function of egooentricism, which is defined as the inability (of young children) to take divergent psychological roles _(Ravell, Botkin, Fry, Wright & Jarvis 1968). Measures of selfishness and sharing among children generally have taken the form of experimental designs where children are given some resource (usually money, candy or toys) which they (sometimes) have won in a game, and then given the opportunity to share or donate a portion of the resource with others who may or may not be physically present. The variables manipulated are usually prior exposure to some form of social learning stimulus. For example, prior to playing a game in which the child can donate winnings to "Bobby", the child on a charity poster, the child is shown a (role) model who "plays the game and, while the child watches, either generously donates or selfishly refuses to donate to the charity ' (Rushton, in Eisenberg (1982), p.88, italics added.) Selfishness is thus operationally defined among social psychologists as the degree to which an individual keeps resources for themselves, or gives them to others.

Perhaps since it is assumed that normal adults have developed the role-taking facility that egocentric children lack, study of selfishness among adults in the light of a rigorous theoretical framework is limited. However, the concepts as operationalised can be transferred to the study of adolescents and adults. Indeed, it would be naive in the extreme to suggest that all adults have a perfectly developed cognitive and affective role-taking ability, and that one never observes an adult exhibiting egocentric or selfish behaviour. As such behaviour clearly persists well into adult life, it is strange that the theoretical investigation of this area is lacking. The explanation appears to lie in the above section reviewing helping behaviour. The two concepts are so closely linked as to be often referred to subsumed under "altruism" or "prosocial behaviour". They are linked by the factors which researchers believe to mediate these behaviours, mainly role-taking. The concept of role-taking is central to the theoretical explanation of both helping behaviour and the selfish-sharing spectrum. In the study of the sharing-selfishness of adults the role-taking ability previously referred to as egocentrism goes under another name, empathy, which is merely the polar opposite of the label used indevelopmental psychology.


Empathy has been studied using two oonceptualisations. Those following Dymond (1949) take the view that:

an empathic person can imaginatively take the role of another and can understand and accurately predict that person's thoughts, feelings and actions (Mehrabian and Epstein 1972).

Mehrabian and Epstein (1972) define empathy as:

a vicarious emotional response to the perceived emotional experiences of others ... includes the sharing of those feelings, at least at the gross affect (pleasant-unpleasant) level.

Thus in their view empathy involves not only recognition of the feelings of others, but also the sharing of these feelings.

Mehrabian and Epstein(1972) applied their measure of emotional empathy to a sample of undergraduate psychology students. Other personality tests and experimental variables were also included: affiliative tendency, succorance (dependency), sensitivity to rejection, approval seeking tendency, and similarity of the recipient. It was found that there was only one .05 level significant effect, which showed that helping behaviour was a function of empathic tendency (Mehrabian and Epstein 1970). The above authors conclude that:

These findings were interpreted as evidence that empathic tendency is the major personality determinant of helping behaviour (p.542).

As we have seen above, empathy, or the ability to take the role of others effectively as well as cognitively, is also a mediator of selfishness. Also note that to empathise with someone, one must not merely take their role cognitively (i.e. be aware of their needs), but affectively (i.e. care about their needs). This suggests that measures of the two concepts in a behavioural setting (response to a request for help, and a resource allocation task) will be reliable indicators of the degree to which individuals care for others, given that "care" is an essential component of empathy.


While the work reported by Richins and Dawson (1991) examining the relationship between materialism and self-centredness is consistent with popular notions of materialism, no work in a similar vein has been reported. Replication and validation of measures is required to substantiate the contention that those individuals high in materialism really do care less about other people than non-materialistic individuals. This is the focus of the present study.

Materialism is excessive attention to objects. Unselfishness and Helping is extreme concern for people. Given that humans have only limited psychological resources to devote to the external world, it appears logical that the more attention we devote to objects, the less we have left to devote to people. Therefore it is hypothesised that:

Hl: Materialism is negatively related to Helping.

H2: Materialism is positively related to Selfishness.


The goal of this research is to investigate the relationships between materialism and care for others, specifically, selfishness and helpfulness, and secondarily to evaluate the usefulness of the Richins and Dawson materialism questionnaire in the Now Zealand context. The relationship of most concern is that between Materialism and Selfishness, which was expected to be a positive one, it was also expected that Selfishness and Helping would be negatively related.


Tests were administered to 151 final year undergraduate students at Otago University, Dunedin, Now Zealand. Approximately equal numbers of male (47.7%) and female (51.7%) respondents were used, 58.3% of the sample wore Commerce students, 41.4% were Arts students.


Clan lists with phone numbers of students wore obtained, respondents were then telephoned and asked to participate in a marketing research survey. Three or four days later a questionnaire was administered to students in lectures or tutorial groups during class time. Groups size ranged from 18 to 40. The questionnaire contained a measure of selfishness, the Richins and Dawson materialism scales, and demographic questions (in that order). This order was chosen to reduce the likelihood of respondents deducing the object of the investigation, as while it is obvious what the materialism questionnaire is about, the purpose of the content analysis question is not so readily apparent.

The data collection took place over a period of two weeks.


Materialism. The 18 item scale developed by Marsha Richins and Scott Dawson (Richins and Dawson 1991), comprised of three subscales was used to measure materialism. Items are 1-7 likert scales with 'agree-disagree' endpoints. The subscales are measures of the three dimensions of materialism as conceptualised by the above authors. The dimensions are the degree to which an individual holds the beliefs that ownership of material objects will bring happiness (dimension and scale are labelled "Happiness"), that ownership of certain material objects are a sign of success in life ('Success"), and that objects are a central part of life ("Centrality). This instrument was the only .ready made" one available apart from Belk's scales. The Richins and Dawson instrument showed superior reliability among subscales, and test-retest correlations. The Richins and Dawson questions also relate to more person-object relationships as opposed to Belk's, which contain a fair amount of person-person relationship questions. The scale was obtained from Marsha Richins and item order was randamised. The instrument was protested on a convenience sample of 20 to 35 year old males and females (n - 10) to assess comprehension of the items by Now Zealanders. No problems were encountered.


Respondents were telephoned and asked to participate in a marketing research survey. The responses formed the measure of helping behaviour, and were coded according to whether respondents offered no help vs. some help. Due to time constraints it was not possible to protest this measure. Initially the request was for a 15 minute session, but when none of the first 20 respondents refused, it was modified to include possible responses of no help, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 90 minutes and two hours. Those who received two calls (one using the first request, and the second explaining a change of plan and the now request) were coded as such for separate analysis. There were no significant differences in help offered between those who received one, phone call, and those who received two (see appendix 1 for request script).


The content analysis of written responses to the question 'What would you do if you won a million dollars?" (see appendix 2 for exact phrasing) was coded by two independent judges to reflect the proportion of items allocated to self versus others. The amount allocated to each item was not asked for or analysed. Inter-judge agreement was 71.64%. This instrument was used in contrast to the measure reported by Richins and Dawson as their study was unavailable at that time. It is felt that the larger amount mentioned ($1,000,000 vs. $20,000), and not asking about amounts spent on each item will have produced a response influenced more by lines of fantasy than realism or pragmatism, and that this would be a truer indications of the respondents "real" feelings, i.e. making choices unhindered by practical considerations.


Results of Hypothesis Tests

Hl: Materialism is negatively related to Helping. ANOVA was used to examine the difference in mean materialism-subscale responses for those individuals who offered no help vs. those who offered some help. Initial investigations revealed materialism varied significantly by faculty on all subscales, and by sex on the happiness subscale. Sex and faculty were therefore included as covariates. While the results of the analysis were not statistically significant at the 5% level, note that mean differences between the groups did not follow the hypothesised direction; individuals who offered no help scored lower on the materialism measure than those who did offer help. This unexpected result may be due to the small size of the non-helping group (n = 16) as compared to the larger group of helpers (n = 91).


H2. Materialism is positively related to Selfishness. Again ANOVA was used to investigate differences in mean materialism scores between groups. The variable measuring proportion of items allocated to self vs. other when respondents indicated how they would span a million dollars was rounded into high and low (i.e. above and below the mean value) proportion, a high proportion indicating selfish behaviour, and a low proportion indicating non-selfish behaviour.


Only one subscale (Centrality) exhibited a difference approaching significance, this difference was in the expected direction: those who allocated more items to self (versus others) exhibited higher levels of materialism (centrality). Due to this effect being observed on one subscale only, the small size of the F ratio, and the low level of significance, this was not considered sufficient evidence to accept the hypothesis that materialism is positively related to selfishness.

Other Findings

The materialism scale was factor analysed following the procedure described by Richins and Dawson (1991) and similar loadings were obtained (see appendix 3 for factor matrix). The reliabilities of the materialism scales (using Cronbach's alpha) were also assessed and compared with those obtained by Richins and Dawson. This instrument exhibits reliability deemed acceptable by most researchers.


Materialism was found to be greater amongst Commerce students. ANOVA with dependent variables of the three subscales and independent of Faculty was used.


Given that helpfulness and selfishness are conceptualised as part of the same larger construct of care for others, we would expect that individuals who offered no help would also score high on the measure of selfishness. It was found that those who offered no help allocated a significantly higher proportion of items to self than those individuals who offered some help.



There was no evidence found to support the hypotheses at the 5% level of confidence. A (non-significant) effect opposite to that hypothesised was found for the relationship between materialism and helping. The only result approaching significance was for the positive relationship between the centrality subscale of the materialism measure and the selfishness measure. This suggests that the either the instruments employed may have been insufficiently sensitive (for example, time may not have been a scarce enough commodity for students to consider donating it to be a sacrifice of some sort) , or the constructs are indeed related, but only extremely weakly. The other alternative is (of course) that the hypothesis is wrong.

The evidence suggests however, that the instruments did indeed measure the constructs as intended, in that although relationships between materialism and selfishness, and materialism and helpfulness were weak or non-existent, the measures employed seemed to behave consistently with other expectations, e.g. commerce students being more materialistic than arts students and non-helpers being more selfish than helpers. This last result in particular can be interpreted as a validation of both instruments, as they behaved according to accepted theory.


Perhaps the most important idea to bear in mind when investigating materialism is that there is no such thing as materialism. When we use the word "materialism" we are referring to a collection of observable behaviours and psychological constructs (the presence and strength of which are inferred according to theoretical models, and not observable) which seem to group together within individuals. Moreover, the more presence of these behaviours and constructs does not constitute materialism, either in the colloquial sense, nor according to various theoretical definitions. It is the degree to which an individual exhibits consumption behaviours, attitudes, values etc, which constitutes the "presence" of materialism within that individual. The degree of behaviours which constitute materialism is a culturally and socially defined threshold. What is the grossest materialism to a working class person may be perfectly normal to a yuppie. Likewise a Sherpa may find the lifestyle of A Bundy materialistic in the extreme.

In our minds the more serious of these two definitional problems is defining just which behaviours and psychological constructs should be included in that group which we label materialism. If a person surrounds themselves with objects, but finds no meaning in them, does not 'value" them, is that person materialistic? If a person has a small number of possessions, but attaches a great deal of worth to them (even if they are not financially valuable), are they materialistic? The results obtained indicate a re-examination of the current views of materialism may be in order. The criticisms of materialism are largely based on the assumption that if one is materialistic one must also be anti-social in some way: selfish, uncaring or unhelpful. This research found no evidence to support this view at a statistically significant level. It should be noted however that this study examined feelings toward the generalised other: a response to a request for help from a stranger, and a free response question that made no reference to others at all. It is possible an investigation which focused on the closer interpersonal relationships between family and friends would have revealed different results. While it is possible that the instruments or methodology may have been inadequate to reveal the relationships hypothesised it is also possible that either they do not in fact exist, or if so, only very weakly. What Materialism is must be clearly delineated from what it is not: for example, the belief that material objects are a source of happiness is materialistic, but envy may or may not be motivated by materialism, i.e. it is a related construct, not a component of the construct. Values and personality traits traditionally held to be associated with materialism may indeed be present in some materialistic individuals, but not all.

It was theorised that because people have only limited psychological resources, if more of these resources are devoted to objects, less should be devoted to people. Two factors confuse this issue:

1. How much attention we would have to devote to objects in order for us to be able to measure a decrease in that devoted to in people? The zero-sum view (where an increase of one factor leads to a decrease in another) assumes that we employ all our "care" all of the time. Perhaps most people have so much "slack" that they can afford to increase both at once, and not run out of care.

2. Care for objects is inextricably linked with care for people. For example the "success" factor of Richins and Dawson's conceptualisation is concerned with objects use in a social setting, as are many other components of various views of materialism. The bottom line is that we find meaning in and care for material things as social, as well as physical, entities. Future research is needed to examine the relationships between materialism and other values and traits, specifically those which relate to interpersonal interactions, and social integration. Furthermore, such research should be behaviourally oriented where feasible, for example measuring helping behaviour rather than helping intentions, and sharing behaviour rather than self-reported intentions.


Appendix 1: the Helpfulness Measure: Script for the Request for Help

"Hi, my name is John Williams, I am a marketing student. I'm doing some research and I'm looking for volunteers to participate in it. I need to get people to come in to the Marketing Department and fill out a questionnaire some time in the first two weeks of next month. I will be using four different questionnaires, and if you do want to help me with this you can choose which one you would prefer to do. The time taken to complete the shortest one is half an hour, one takes an hour, another an hour and a half, and another two hours. So what I would like to know is if you would be interested in helping me, and if so how much time you can spare'.

Appendix 2: The Selfishness Measure

In the space below (and over the page if necessary), write a short story about what you would do (and why you would do it) if you won a million dollars, tax free, deposited into your cheque account today. Don't try to be too rational, just write whatever comes into your head. Write as much as you like, but the time limit for you to complete this task is five minutes.

Appendix 3: Replication of Richins and Dawson (1991) Factor Analysis

Principal component extraction was used, with oblique rotation. The factor pattern matrix is shown below, with the loadings (above .35) reported by Richins and Dawson(1991) in brackets. See Appendix 4 for a description of each question.


The centrality scale exhibits some instability in that two of it's items (loadings marked with a *) load onto the success scale. and one (marked with a #) onto the happiness scale. This may be due to cultural differences between New Zealand and the USA, and the fact that the scale was developed using adult respondents, whereas this study used students. Also note that the conflicting signs (+ve and -ve) of some loadings are due to reversed scored items being reversed prior to factor analysis in this study, whereas it appears Richins and Dawson reversed these after the factor analysis.

Appendix Four: The Richins and Dawson items 01. 1 put less emphasis on material things than most people I know. 02- Some of the most important achievements in life include acquiring material possessions. 03. 1 enjoy spending money on things that aren't practical. 04. 1 wouldn't be any happier if I owned nicer things. 05. It sometimes bothers me quite a bit that I can't afford to buy all the things I'd like. 06. 1 have all the things I really need to enjoy life. 07. 1 admire people who own expensive homes, cars, and clothes. 08. The things I own aren't all that important to me. 09. Buying things gives me a lot of pleasure. 10. My life would be better if I owned certain things I don't have. 11. 1 don't place much emphasis on the amount of material objects people own as a sign of success. 12. 1 like a lot of luxury in my life. 13. 1 usually buy only the things I need. 14. 1 like to own things that impress people. 15. 1 don't pay much attention to the material objects other people own. 16. The things I own say a lot about how well I'm doing in life. 17. I'd be happier if I could afford to buy more things. 18. 1 try to keep my life simple, as far as possessions are concerned.


Belk, Russell W. (1984), 'Worldly possessions: Issues and Criticisms," Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 11, 514-519.

Belk, Russell W. (1984b), "Three Scales to Measure Constructs Related to Materialism: Reliability, Validity, and Relationships to Measures of Happiness," Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 11, 291-297.

Belk, Russell W. (1985), "Materialism: Trait Aspects of Living in the Material World," Journal of Consurner Research, vol. 12, (December), 265-280.

Belk, Russell W., and Guliz Ger (1990), "Measuring and Comparing Materialism Cross-Culturally," Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 17, 186-192.

Dymond, R.F. (1949) "A Scale for Measurement of Empathic Ability," Journal of Consulting Psychology, vol 14, 127-133.

Eisenberg, Nancy (1982) The Development of Prosocial Behaviour, Now York:Academic Press.

Flavell, J.H., P.T. Botkin, C.L. Fry, J.W. Wright and P.E. Jarvis (1968), The Develpoment of Role-taking and Communication Skills in Children, Now York:Wiley.

Latano, B. and J.M. Darley 1968), "Group Inhibition of Bysilander Intervention,' Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol 10, 215-221.

Krebs, D.L. (1970), 'Altruism: an Examination of the Concept and a Review of the Literature," Psychological Bulletin, vol 73, 258-302.

Mehrabian, Albert and Norman Epstein (1972), A Measure of Emotional Empathy, Journal of Personality, vol 40, 525-543.

Richins, Marsha L and Scott Dawson (1990), "Measuring Material Values :A Preliminary Report of Scale Development," Advances in Consumer Research, vol 17, 169-175.

Richins, Marsha L and Scott Dawson (1991), "Materialism as a Consumer Value: Measure Development-and Validation," Unpublished Working Paper.

Smithson, Michael, Paul R Amato and Philip Pearce, (1983), Dimensions of Helping Behaviour, Potts Point: Pergamon Press.

Wisps, Lauren (1978) Altruism, Sympathy and Helping, Now York: Academic Press.

[Endnote Selected from Kahle's List of Values (LOV), a modification of Rokeach's List of Values. The LOV is comprised of nine vales which respondents are asked to rank as most to least important. See Kahle and Kennedy (1988).]



John Williams, Department of Marketing, University of Otago
Wendy Bryce, Department of Marketing, University of Otago


SV - Meaning, Measure, and Morality of Materialism | 1992

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