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In the news ... Chronic self-doubters tend
to be more materialistic ...
People with chronic self-doubt may
be more likely than others to
define personal success by having the biggest house on
the block or a new luxury car.
A study found that people with enduring feelings of self-doubt
scored higher than others on a measure of
materialism - the tendency to value monetary success and
possessions over other goals in life.
Specifically, they were more
likely to believe that success was defined by what a person
"Feelings of self-doubt can send people
looking for meaning in
their lives, with a goal toward boosting their self-worth,"
Arkin, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at
Ohio State University.
"If they aren't deriving a sense of
self-worth from other parts of
their lives, they may feel that owning a lot of things proves
they are successful."
Arkin conducted the study with Lin Chiat
Chang, a graduate
student in psychology at Ohio State. The study was published
in the journal Psychology
and Marketing. He said research in countries around the world
show that people tend to believe that materialism is a
insecure people who doubt their self-worth. However, he said
there has not been much evidence to
In one study, Arkin and Chang had 416
complete a variety of measures that examined their levels of
self-doubt, several forms of materialism, and other
The results showed that people who were
scored higher in materialism. In particular, they scored
higher on a measure of materialism in which people define
terms of what they own. For example, they were more likely to
agree with statements such as "I like to own things that
people "and "The things I own say a lot about how well I'm
doing in life."
The link between self-doubt and
materialism was confirmed in
a second study that found that inducing feelings of self doubt
could increase materialistic tendencies in those with chronic
self-doubt. This study involved 95 undergraduates - half who
scored high in
chronic self-doubt and half who scored low.
Participants were asked to memorize words by
words to their own personality and experiences. Half the
subjects memorized self-doubt words (insecure, doubtful,
etc.) while the other half memorized words unrelated to
self-doubt (inside, double, unicorn, etc.). Prior studies have
this technique increases feelings of insecurity in those who
doubt-related words. In this study, participants were asked
about their current state of mind regarding materialism,
rather than their long-term feelings.
Results showed that when participants
words, those who scored higher on chronic self-doubt showed
significantly higher levels of current materialism than those
who did not have chronic self-doubt. But among those who
memorized the unrelated words, there
was no difference in immediate feelings of materialism between
the chronic self-doubters and the confident
"For those people who are chronically
seems to be a coping mechanism that they use when they are put
in a situation that makes them doubtful about themselves,"
Arkin said it is noteworthy that
self-doubters score high on a
type of materialism that equates possessions with success.
"Chronic self-doubters are not interested in
because they bring happiness or because they simply
like owning a lot of
things," Arkin said. "They are interested in possessions
because of their meaning, the status they confer. They believe
their possessions demonstrate success."
That's why materialism can be seen as a
coping response for
people who are uncertain about their identity, he said.
The results also showed that materialism is
another type of uncertainty - anomie. While chronic
self-doubters tend to be uncertain about their own abilities
and identity, those
who score high in anomie tend to feel uncertainty related to
their society and culture. They tend to feel rootless and
society lacks clear guidelines for behavior.
But whether a person suffers from anomie or
said materialism is a poor coping mechanism. Other studies
have shown that a materialistic orientation to life is linked
poor psychological functioning and lower life
"The cycle of materialistic pursuits is
exhausting in the long run and can make people perpetually
It is better to find other goals in life
and find areas where one
can excel without resorting to material possessions as proof
of success, he said.
Ohio State University 08 02
Money won’t buy happiness
There is more to life satisfaction than money, and public
policy programs aiming to tackle poverty need to move beyond
simply raising people’s income to also improving their quality
of life in other areas. These findings1 by Professor Mariano
Rojas from Mexico’s Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias
Sociales are published in Springer’s journal, Applied Research
in Quality of Life.
Professor Rojas concludes: “This paper has shown that it is
possible to jump over the income poverty line with little
effect on life satisfaction. Income is not an end but a means
to an end. There is a big risk of neglecting and
underestimating the importance of well-being-enhancing factors
when focusing only on income poverty. It is important to worry
about getting people out of income poverty, but it is more
beneficial to also worry about the additional skills people
need to have a more satisfying life.”
Rojas M (2009). Enhancing poverty-abatement
programs: a subjective well-being contribution. Applied
Research in Quality of Life; DOI 10.1007/s11482-009-9071-0
Internet Press Office
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