materialism journal - Journal of Consumer Research Inc The...

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Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. 0DWHULDOLVP± 7UDLW $VSHFWV RI /LYLQJ LQ WKH 0DWHULDO :RUOG $XWKRU²V³± 5XVVHOO :´ %HON 6RXUFH± -RXUQDORI&RQVXPHU5HVHDUFKµ 9RO´ ¶·µ 1R´ ¸ ²'HF´µ ¶¹º»³µ SS´ ·¼»½·º¾ 3XEOLVKHG E\± The University of Chicago Press 6WDEOH 85/± . $FFHVVHG± ··¿¾¹¿·¾¶¸ ¶¼±¸À Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] . The University of Chicago Press and Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of Consumer Research. This content downloaded from 192.152.243.178 on Sun, 22 Sep 2013 16:34:18 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Materialism: Trait Aspects of Living in the Material World RUSSELL W. BELK* The relevance of materialism to consumer behavior is discussed. Materialism is advanced as a critical but neglected macro consumer-behavior issue. Measures for materialism and three subtraits-envy, nongenerosity, and possessiveness-are presented and tested. The subtraits are compared over three generations of con- sumers from the same families, and measure validity is further explored via responses to a sentence completion task. Based on these results, a call is made for research into related macro consumer-behavior issues. R ecent historical analyses have variously concluded that contemporary patterns of happiness-seeking via consumption first emerged in the West in fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe (Braudel 1973; Mukerji 1983), eighteenth century England (McKendrick, Brewer, and Plumb 1982), nineteenth century France (Williams 1981), or nineteenth and twentieth century America (Boorstin 1973; Harris 1981; Lears 1983). Al- though historians may disagree on the date and place of modern consumption's emergence, they agree that it has achieved an elevated and revered place in indus- trial and post-industrial life. Such a consumption-based orientation is commonly labeled materialism. Belk de- fines materialism as (1984b, p. 291): The importance a consumer attaches to worldly posses- sions. At the highest levels of materialism, such posses- sions assume a central place in a person's life and are believed to provide the greatest sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. However, McKendrick, Brewer, and Plumb (1982) have noted that it is not true that acquisitive desires have only emerged in the last few hundred years. Such desires can easily be traced at least as far back as ancient civilizations, as can isolated pockets of conspicuous consumption (Rigby and Rigby 1949). But as Mason (1981) argued, it has only been within the last few

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