To have or to learn? The effects of materialism on British and Chinese children's learning

Ku, Lisbeth, Dittmar, Helga and Banerjee, Robin (2014) To have or to learn? The effects of materialism on British and Chinese children's learning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106 (5). pp. 803-821. ISSN 0022-3514

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This article presents a systematic attempt to examine the associations of materialism with learning in 9- to 11-year-old children in 2 countries of similar economic development but different cultural heritage. Using cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental methods, we test a theoretically driven model of associations among materialism, learning motivations, and learning outcomes. Convergent findings suggest that a materialist orientation in elementary school children lowers intrinsic learning motivations, fosters extrinsic learning motivations, and leads to poorer learning outcomes. Materialism was linked directly to lower exam performance, and this link was mediated by lower mastery and heightened performance goals, with patterns not differing between British and Hong Kong Chinese children (Study 1). A follow-up showed that initial materialism predicted worse exam grades 1 year later, suggesting a detrimental long-term effect on Chinese children's school performance (Study 2). We then tested relationships between materialism and learning experimentally, by priming a momentary (state) orientation toward materialism. Writing about material possessions and money affected Chinese children's learning motivations, so that they endorsed lower mastery and higher performance goals (Study 3). A video-diary materialism prime had significant effects on actual learning behaviors, leading British children to (a) choose a performance-oriented learning task over a mastery-oriented task and (b) give up on the task more quickly (Study 4). This research has important implications for personality psychology, educational policy, and future research.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2015 12:31
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2021 14:14

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