WASHINGTON: People who place high value on wealth and status are more depressed and anxious and less sociable than others, says a new study.
“We found that irrespective of personality, in situations that activate a consumer mindset, people show the same sorts of problematic patterns in wellbeing, including negative affect and social disengagement,” says Northwestern University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen.
Bodenhausen co-authored the study with Monika A. Bauer, James E. B. Wilkie, and Jung K. Kim, the journal Psychological Science reports.
In two of four experiments, university students were put in a materialistic frame of mind by tasks that exposed them to images of luxury goods or words mobilising consumerist values, according to a Northwestern statement.
Completing questionnaires afterwards, those who looked at the pictures of cars, electronics, and jewellery rated themselves higher in depression and anxiety, less interested in social activities like parties, and more in solitary pursuits than the others.
Those primed to materialism by exposure to certain words evinced more competitiveness and less desire to invest their time in pro-social activities like working for a good cause. The findings have both social and personal implications, says Bodenhausen.