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Materialist values, financial and pro-environmental behaviors, and well-being

Sabrina Helm (Retailing and Consumer Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Joyce Serido (Family Social Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Sun Young Ahn (Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland, USA)
Victoria Ligon (University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Soyeon Shim (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 24 July 2019

Issue publication date: 21 November 2019




The purpose of this study is to examine young consumers’ financial behavior (e.g. saving) and pro-environmental behavior (i.e. reduced consumption and green buying) as effective proactive strategies undertaken in the present to satisfy materialistic values and maximize well-being.


The study is based on an online survey among a panel of young American adults (N = 968).


The study finds a positive effect of materialism on personal well-being and negative effects on financial satisfaction, proactive financial coping and reduced consumption, but no effect on green buying, a separate and distinct pro-environmental strategy. Both proactive financial coping and reduced consumption are positively associated with subjective well-being.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should re-examine conceptualizations of materialism in the context of climate change and the meaning of possessions in the global digital economy; studies could also focus on the specific well-being effects of reduced consumption and alternative pathways to align materialistic and environmental values.

Practical implications

Consumer education should look to models of financial education to demonstrate how limited natural resources can be managed at the micro level to enhance consumers’ subjective well-being, as well as reduce resource strain at the macro level.


Key contributions are the examination of materialism and consumption in the dual contexts of financial and environmental resource constraints and the effects of these key macro-social phenomena on consumers’ perceived well-being. Another study highlight is the differentiation of two strategies for proactive environmental coping, of which only one, reduced consumption, increased personal well-being and decreased psychological distress.



Helm, S., Serido, J., Ahn, S.Y., Ligon, V. and Shim, S. (2019), "Materialist values, financial and pro-environmental behaviors, and well-being", Young Consumers, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 264-284.



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