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This research explored the relationships between materialism and money spending attitudes on impulse buying tendencies, attitudes toward debt, sensation seeking, and openness to experience. Students and other adults (N = 266) completed a materialism scale, portions of two money conservation scales, an impulse buying scale, an attitudes toward debt scale, a sensation seeking scale, and an openness to experience scale. Simultaneous-entry multiple regression analyses revealed that materialism and money conservation were predictive of impulse buying, sensation seeking, and openness to experience. Two marginally significant interactions emerged. Individuals less materialistic and tight with money had particularly negative attitudes toward debt, and individuals less materialistic and loose with money were particularly open to experience. Results are discussed with respect to how materialism may be related to a variety of individual difference variables, both at the main effect level and in interaction with money spending attitudes.
Tatzel (2002) proposed a taxonomy of "money worlds" in which she integrated the notions of materialism and money spending disposition. In her taxonomy, she cogently articulated how money spending penchants may combine with materialism to predict a number of other phenomena. The purpose of the current research is to empirically test some of the predictions she made.
Materialism is "… a value representing the individual's orientation toward the role of possessions in life, serving to guide the types and quantities of goods purchased" (Mick, 1996, p. 108). To a great extent, research on materialism has tended to focus on materialism as a main effect. However, at least two studies have examined interactive effects of materialism. Burroughs and Rindfleisch (2002) examined how ownership of material objects and its negative relationship with well-being is a function of other important life values. Also, LaBarbera and Gürhan (1997) found that people high in materialism with lower incomes had lower levels of well-being than people high in materialism with higher incomes. Materialism at the main effect level has been a topic of a comprehensive study of how materialism is related to spending tendencies, saving, and debt. Watson (2003) found that materialistic people tended to be more likely to spend money, more likely to express positive attitudes toward borrowing money for luxury purchases, and less likely to own vehicles of savings (e.g., mutual funds) than were less materialistic people. The paucity of research on the interactions between materialism and other phenomena warrants further research.
To better understand the different meanings that money holds for people, empirical research has focused primarily on the development of scales to assess such differences (e.g., Furnham, 1984; Tang, 1992; Yamauchi & Templer, 1982). These undertakings have each demonstrated that the meanings people ascribe to money are indeed diverse. For instance, in a factor analysis, Furnham (1984) found six distinct factors of money beliefs and behaviors, including obsession, power/spending, retention, security/conservatism, inadequacy, and effort/ability. In the current research, we were particularly interested in people's tendency to conserve (or not conserve) money, and how such a tendency may combine with materialistic values to predict economic attitudes (i.e., attitudes toward debt and impulse buying) and personality traits (i.e., sensation seeking and openness to experience).
Money Attitudes, Materialism, and Tatzel’s (2002) Taxonomy
Impulsive Buying and Attitudes Toward Debt
In contrast, value seekers, with a "save-to-spend" mindset and a penchant to "bargain-hunt" (Tatzel, 2002) may demonstrate an aversion to debt and a tendency to shun impulse purchases. Likewise, nonspenders are also likely to be adverse to debt. They have no reason to borrow money to buy things and instead enjoy accumulating money, rather than spending it on possessions. Additionally, we speculate that non-spenders would seem unlikely to engage in impulse buying because doing so would mean not only parting unexpectedly with their money, but would also result in the accumulating of possessions that are not necessary to their existence.
Openness to Experience and Sensation Seeking
Research has revealed a relationship between the constructs of sensation seeking and openness to experience with economic variables. For instance, Wong and Carducci (1991) found that high sensation seekers have greater financial risk-taking tendencies in everyday money matters, i.e., personal investments, household affairs, and gambling. Likewise, in an examination of farmers' business-related behaviors and personality traits, Austin, Deary, and Willock (2001) indicated that farmers who were more open to experience also displayed more production-oriented behaviors, i.e., behaviors that are indicative of a profitable business.
To sensation seek, e.g., by going surfing (Diehm & Armatas, 2004), or to enjoy new experiences, e.g., enjoying art and music (Rawlings, Vidal, & Furnham, 2000), would require one to be willing to spend money, but not on material possessions. Indeed, to "experience" a stimulus may mean one has to pay money for it, but cannot physically possess it. In the current investigation, we expect that experiencers, i.e., those loose with money but not materialistic, would be particularly high in sensation seeking and openness to experience.
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