Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Contentment: Is Spare Time > Spare Stuff?

What is more desirable: too little or too much spare time on your hands? To be happy, somewhere in the middle, according to Chris Manolis and James Roberts from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH and Baylor University in Waco, TX. Their work shows that materialistic young people with compulsive buying issues need just the right amount of spare time to feel happier. The study is published online in Springer’s journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

We now live in a society where time is of the essence. The perception of a shortage of time, or time pressure, is linked to lower levels of happiness. At the same time, our consumer culture, characterized by materialism and compulsive buying, also has an effect on people’s happiness: the desire for materialistic possessions leads to lower life satisfaction.

Given the importance of time in contemporary life, Manolis and Roberts investigate, for the first time, the effect of perceived time affluence (the amount of spare time one perceives he or she has) on the consequences of materialistic values and compulsive buying for adolescent well-being.

A total of 1,329 adolescents from a public high school in a large metropolitan area of the Midwestern United States took part in the study. The researchers measured how much spare time the young people thought they had; the extent to which they held materialistic values and had compulsive buying tendencies; and their subjective well-being, or self-rated happiness.

Manolis and Roberts’ findings confirm that both materialism and compulsive buying have a negative impact on teenagers’ happiness. The more materialistic they are and the more they engage in compulsive buying, the lower their happiness levels.

In addition, time affluence moderates the negative consequences of both materialism and compulsive buying in this group. Specifically, moderate time affluence i.e. being neither too busy, nor having too much spare time, is linked to higher levels of happiness in materialistic teenagers and those who are compulsive buyers.

Those who suffer from time pressures and think materialistically and/or purchase compulsively feel less happy compared with their adolescent counterparts. Equally, having too much free time on their hands exacerbates the negative effects of material values and compulsive buying on adolescent happiness. The authors conclude: “Living with a sensible, balanced amount of free time promotes well-being not only directly, but also by helping to alleviate some of the negative side effects associated with living in our consumer-orientated society.”

Manolis C & Roberts JA (2011). Subjective well-being among adolescent consumers: the effects of materialism, compulsive buying, and time affluence. Applied Research in Quality of Life. DOI 10.1007/s11482-011-9155-5

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October 23, 2011 Posted by | Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Age & Ageing, depression, Exercise, Health Psychology, Identity, mood, Positive Psychology, research, Resilience, stress | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People Vs Possessions: What Matters The Most?

Credit: Sciencedaily.com

In the first study of its kind, researchers have found compelling evidence that our best and worst experiences in life are likely to involve not individual accomplishments, but interaction with other people and the fulfillment of an urge for social connection.

The findings, which run contrary to implications of previous research, are reported in “What Makes Us Feel the Best Also Makes Us Feel the Worst: The Emotional Impact of Independent and Interdependent Experiences.” The study reports on research conducted at the University at Buffalo and will appear in the forthcoming print issue of Self and Identity.

Co-author Shira Gabriel, PhD, associate professor of psychology at UB, says, “Most of us spend much of our time and effort focused on individual achievements such as work, hobbies and schooling.

“However this research suggests that the events that end up being most important in our lives, the events that bring us the most happiness and also carry the potential for the most pain, are social events — moments of connecting to others and feeling their connections to us.”

Gabriel says that much research in social psychology has explicitly or implicitly implied that events experienced independent of other individuals are central to explaining our most intense emotional experiences.

“We found, however, “she says, “that it was not independent events or individual achievements like winning awards or completing tasks that affected participants the most, but the moments when close relationships began or ended; when people fell in love or found a new friend; when a loved one died or broke their hearts. In short, it was the moments of connecting to others that that touched peoples’ lives the most.”

The researchers included principal author Lisa Jaremka, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Mauricio Cavallo, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, both graduates of UB.

A total of 376 subjects participated in the four studies that formed the basis of the researchers’ conclusions.

Study 1 involved college students who were asked to describe the most positive and negative emotional experiences of their lives. Overwhelmingly, and without regard for the sex of participants, they were much more likely to describe social events as the most positive and negative thing they had ever experienced (as compared to independent events).

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Study 2, replicated and extended Study 1, with similar results, and focused on middle-aged participants who were asked to report on a recent intense emotional experience.

Study 3 provided evidence that the strong emotional impact of interdependent (i.e., social) events reported in the first two studies was not due to the fact that social events were more salient than independent events.

Study 4 demonstrated that when thinking about both social and independent events, participants rate the social events as far more impactful than independent events. Study 4 also demonstrated that social events gain their emotional punch from our need to belong.

Gabriel’s research and expertise focuses on the social nature of the self, including social aspects of self-construal, the social functions of the self, the need to belong and gender differences in strategies for connecting to others.
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August 30, 2010 Posted by | Cognition, Health Psychology, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Positive Psychology, Resilience, Social Psychology | , , | 2 Comments

“Out Of The Way People…I Want Stuff!”: How Materialism Affects The Work-Family Conflict & Marital Satisfaction

The more materialistic individuals are, the more likely they are to view their family as an obstacle to work. This is the finding of a study published online on 8th April 2010, in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

Mark Promislo from Temple University, Philadelphia, USA and colleagues John Deckop, Robert Giacalone and Carole Jurkiewicz, carried out the study to investigate to what extent a person’s materialistic values were linked to their experience of work-family conflict. Mark Promislo said: “Needs associated with materialistic values are far more likely to be attained through work, so it is possible that people who place a high value on income and material possessions feel that the family demands get in the way of their work time.”

A total of 274 people replied to a questionnaire which asked to what extent their work demands interfered with their family responsibilities, and to what extent their family demands interfered with their work. They were also asked to complete a questionnaire that assessed how materialistic they were.

Materialism was significantly associated with the measures of family interference with work, and also their experience of work-overload – the perception of having too many things to do and not enough time to do them.

Mark Promislo continued: “Highly materialistic people pour their efforts into work as this produces tangible materialistic rewards – money and possessions. They therefore see any obstacle to work -including their family, as disruptive. This finding adds ‘work-family conflict’ to the already long list of the negative effects of materialistic values on personal well-being.”

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Materialism is also related to Marital Dissatisfaction

While there has been a relatively large number of studies conducted to investigate associations between financial problems and marital outcomes, little research has been done to examine possible relationships between materialistic attitudes, perceived financial problems, and marital outcomes.

A 2005 study by Lukas Dean of Brigham Young University was designed to examine a conceptual model linking materialism, perceived financial problems, and relationship satisfaction among married couples.

Data was obtained from 600 married heterosexual couples who took the RELATE test; a multidimensional couple assessment instrument that contains 271 questions that are designed to measure respondents’ perceptions about themselves and their partners in four main contexts of premarital and marital relationships.

His findings indicate that wives’ materialism is negatively related to husbands’ marital satisfaction. Husbands’ and wives’ materialism is positively related with increased perception of financial problems which is in turn negatively associated with marital satisfaction. As expected, income was positively related to marital satisfaction, however, income had no relation to perception of financial problems. Materialism had a stronger impact on perception of financial problems than income.

Distinct gender findings indicate that although husbands’ variables had no significant relation with wives’ outcomes, wives’ variables were significantly related to husbands’ outcomes. Specifically, wives’ materialism is positively related with husbands’ increased perception of financial problems, and wives’ perceived financial problems is negatively associated with husbands’ marital satisfaction.

These findings support the notion that materialism is indirectly related to marital satisfaction, and in some ways directly related to marital satisfaction.

Both these studies add to a growing body of work which demonstrates the negative psychosocial impacts of materialism.

Sources:

British Psychological Society

Dean, L.R. (2005) MATERIALISM, PERCEIVED FINANCIAL PROBLEMS,
AND MARITAL SATISFACTION (Unpublished Thesis)
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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April 12, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Books, Health Psychology, Marriage, Parenting, research, Social Psychology, Spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments