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The problematic role of materialistic values in the pursuit of sustainable well-being

Isham, Amy, Verfuerth, Caroline ORCID:, Armstrong, Alison, Elf, Patrick, Gatersleben, Birgitta and Jackson, Tim 2022. The problematic role of materialistic values in the pursuit of sustainable well-being. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19 (6) , 3673. 10.3390/ijerph19063673

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Strong materialistic values help to maintain consumer capitalism, but they can have negative consequences for individual well-being, for social equity and for environmental sustainability. In this paper, we add to the existing literature on the adverse consequences of materialistic values by highlighting their negative association with engagement in attitudes and actions that support the achievement of sustainable well-being. To do this, we explore the links between materialistic values and attitudes towards sufficiency (consuming “just enough”) as well as mindfulness (non-judgmental awareness of the present moment) and flow (total immersion in an activity), which have all been linked to increased well-being and more sustainable behaviours. We present results from three correlational studies that examine the association between materialistic values and sufficiency attitudes (Study 1, n = 310), a multi-faceted measure of mindfulness (Study 2, n = 468) and the tendency to experience flow (Study 3, n = 2000). Results show that materialistic values were negatively associated with sufficiency attitudes, mindfulness, and flow experiences. We conclude with practical considerations and suggest next steps for tackling the problematic aspects of materialism and encouraging the development of sustainable well-being.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/)
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 1660-4601
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 17 March 2022
Last Modified: 16 May 2023 16:29

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