To have is to be: materialism and person perception in working-class and middle-class British adolescents

Dittmar, Helga and Pepper, Lucy (1994) To have is to be: materialism and person perception in working-class and middle-class British adolescents. Journal of Economic Psychology, 15 (2). pp. 233-251. ISSN 0167-4870

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Abstract

This study addresses the neglected link between materialism and person perception. It extends recent research into the influence of material possessions on first impressions by investigating how materialism (as a set of socio-cultural representations and as an individual value orientation) affects the way in which adolescents from different social class backgrounds perceive a person who is portrayed as either owning or lacking expensive possessions. One hundred and sixty-eight respondents (93 middle-class, 75 working-class) read one of four vignettes which described the same woman or man in either affluent or less privileged material circumstances. They then evaluated that person's income and personal qualities, and completed Richins and Dawson's (1992) materialism scale. Both working-class and middle-class adolescents formed similar impressions, which favour the person who owns, rather than lacks, expensive possessions. This can be interpreted as a facet of materialism at a socio-cultural level. The impact of individually held materialistic values on impressions was comparatively weak, but they moderated the strength with which materialistic socio-cultural representations about wealth and poverty are reproduced. Future research needs to address further the role of material goods in social perception.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Helga Dittmar
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2017 12:10
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2017 12:10
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66667
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