The Relationship between Materialism and Gratitude

Posted on October 15, 2018

The trait of materialism has been associated with a variety of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety; hence, parents should naturally be concerned about the potential development of materialism in their child. A recent study showed that there may be a parenting strategy to combat the development of this problematic trait in children.

The present study recruited 900 adolescents as participants and asked them to complete two questionnaires assessing for materialism and gratitude. The results showed a relationship between the presence of gratitude and materialism – specifically, higher expression of gratitude could possibly decrease the emergence of materialism and increase generosity instead.

Subsequently, the researchers designed two experimental conditions in a pool of 61 adolescents after they were also asked to complete the same questionnaires on gratitude and materialism measures – one group was asked to keep a daily journal for two weeks, while the other group was asked to record specifically what and who they were thankful for each day, i.e. a gratitude journal. The study also included a control group who were tasked with recording daily activities.

After the two-week period, the participants filled out the same gratitude and materialism questionnaires as before and given 10 $1 bills which they were told they could keep or donate some or all of it to a charity.

The results revealed that participants in the gratitude condition reported a higher significant decline in materialism compared to the control group, and their gratitude levels were also higher than before the experiment. On the other hand, the control group did not show a significant difference in their pre- and post-measures.

Furthermore, the gratitude group was also more generous than the control group as they donated more than 66% of their earnings, i.e. the $10 reimbursement they received from the researchers, whereas the control group donated less than 50% of the money they received.

Hence, the present study suggests that there is an inverse relationship between gratitude and materialism – higher levels of gratitude would see a drop in materialism in adolescents.

Accordingly, parents could encourage their children to reflect on what they are grateful for at the end of the day through a variety of means, such as keeping a gratitude journal or simply having a conversation with one another, as a means of minimizing materialism.


Category(s):Child Development, Compulsive Spending / Shopping, Parenting

Source material from Medical Xpress


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