Consumerism and well-being in early adolescence

Sweeting, H. , Hunt, K. and Bhaskar, A. (2012) Consumerism and well-being in early adolescence. Journal of Youth Studies, 15(6), pp. 802-820. (doi: 10.1080/13676261.2012.685706)

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It has been suggested that consumerism is negatively related to well-being in children and adolescents, as well as adults. Few studies have explored whether certain aspects of consumerism have stronger associations with well-being than others, or between-group differences in associations. This article uses data from a sample of early adolescents to examine: levels of consumerism; relationships between different aspects of consumerism and well-being; and differences according to gender, school year group and family affluence. Data were obtained in 2010 via secondary school pupil surveys (N=2934). Consumerism measures comprised number of ‘standard’ and ‘premium’ possessions and four dimensions of consumer involvement; well-being measures comprised self-esteem, psychological distress and anger. There was evidence of high penetration of consumerist values. There were positive associations between number of possessions and anger, and between ‘dissatisfaction’ and poorer well-being, regardless of how measured. ‘Brand awareness’ was associated with positive male well-being, but negative female well-being. Many relationships between consumerism and well-being were stronger than those between family affluence and well-being. These results suggest only certain aspects of consumerism are associated with poorer adolescent well-being. Although, for some sub-groups, other aspects might be associated with better well-being, there was no evidence that modern consumer goods promote happiness.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hunt, Professor Kathryn and Bhaskar, Ms Abita and Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: Sweeting, H., Hunt, K., and Bhaskar, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Youth Studies
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-9680
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 Taylor and Francis
First Published:First published in Journal of Youth Studies 15(6):802-820
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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