How anti-materialistic people become materialistic

New York, Sep 24 (IANS) If you read a report whose message is that people consume too much, would you be inclined to curb your own consumption?

If you happen to be anti-materialistic, then such a report may actually prompt you to spend more, says a new study.

According to the study, people who place a high value on materialism are likely to reduce their consumption after reading such a report.

“In contrast, people who are fairly anti-materialistic may actually consume more after getting the message that most people over-consume,” wrote the authors of the study.

“That’s because they want to conform more to the social norm, so they ‘allow’ themselves to increase their consumption,” the researchers noted.

The authors – Nadav Yakobovitch from Northeastern University and Amir Grinstein from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – set up an online study and a laboratory study, and, after presenting study participants with a report that argued that people consume too much, asked them to make consumption choices in a variety of contexts.

The choices were correlated with the participants’ degree of materialism, which the authors also measured.

The authors found that participants who were highly materialistic were motivated to decrease their consumption, whereas participants who were not very materialistic were actually motivated to boost their consumption.

The latter effect – a “boomerang” effect – was offset when the low-materialistic participants were informed of the ecological consequences of their choices.

“Materialistic values are at the heart of consumption decisions in the modern world, and studying ways to modify that value system may be an important step in lowering our carbon footprint,” the authors said.

The study was published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

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