people experience more stress from traumatic events such as terrorist attacks
and are more likely to spend compulsively as a result, according to an
international study led by a Michigan State University business professor.
possession-driven folks tend to have lower self-esteem than others, said Ayalla
Ruvio, assistant professor of marketing in MSU's Broad College of Business.
going gets tough, the materialistic go shopping,” said Ruvio. “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
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, co-ordinated 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
researchers also surveyed 170 residents from another Israeli town that was not
More post-traumatic stress
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.
relationship between materialism and stress may be more harmful than commonly
thought,” Ruvio said.
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 U.S. residents and asked about their materialistic nature and fear of
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.
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.
may extend to a wide variety of contexts. Post-traumatic stress arises from a
host of events such as automobile accidents, criminal attacks and natural
disasters. Ruvio said future research should address the relationship between
stress and materialism in different contexts.