Materialistic people likelier to turn shopaholics during stressful times

Washington, Sept 26 (ANI): A new study suggests that materialistic people experience more stress from traumatic events such as terrorist attacks and are more likely to spend compulsively as a result.

These possession-driven folks tend to have lower self-esteem than others, Ayalla Ruvio, assistant professor of marketing in Michigan State University's Broad College of Business, said.

"When the going gets tough, the materialistic go shopping," Ruvio Michigan State University.

"And this compulsive and impulsive spending is likely to produce even greater stress and lower well-being. Essentially, materialism appears to make bad events even worse," the researcher said.

For the first part of the study, Ruvio and colleagues surveyed 139 citizens from a southern Israeli town under extreme rocket attacks from Palestine for about six months in 2007.

Ruvio, who is from northern Israel, coordinated the data collection amid the terrorist attacks. Her co-researchers were Eli Somer, professor and clinical psychologist at the University of Haifa in Israel, and Aric Rindfleisch, business professor and department head at the University of Illinois.

The researchers also surveyed 170 residents from another Israeli town that was not under attack.

The results: Highly materialistic people, when faced with a mortal threat, reported much higher levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms and impulsive and compulsive buying than their less materialistic counterparts.

For the second part of the study, the researchers set out to examine the factors behind the effects of materialism observed in Israel. They commissioned a survey of 855 US residents and asked about their materialistic nature and fear of death.

The second part of the study also found that materialistic people are more likely to try to relieve fear of death through impulsive and out-of-control spending.

In this case, the effects occurred not just in response to a specific threat such as a terrorist attack but as a way to cope with general anxiety about mortality.

The findings suggest that materialism's intensifying effect on extreme stress may be driven by a global response to fear of death and by low self-esteem.

The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. (ANI)

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