The purpose of this study was to investigate the mediating roles of materialism and self-esteem in explaining how family conflict leads to adolescent compulsive buying. Despite the importance of family as a primary socialization agent, scant research has focused on how family conflict impacts adolescents’ attitudes and behaviors as consumers.
A survey of 1,289 adolescents was conducted in a public high school in the Midwestern USA. Regression analyses were used to assess the mediating roles of materialism and self-esteem on the relationship between family conflict and compulsive buying. Additionally, gender was hypothesized to moderate the relationship between family conflict and the two mediating variables.
Results showed that family conflict increased adolescent materialism and lowered self-esteem. Gender moderated the relationship between family conflict and self-esteem with a more pronounced effect for females than males. Materialism and self-esteem were significantly related to compulsive buying. Family conflict had a significant indirect effect on compulsive buying through materialism for females and through self-esteem for both male and female.
Findings suggest that family conflict impacts compulsive buying through its impact on both materialism and self-esteem. Future research is needed to explain why adolescents use compulsive buying as a coping mechanism for family conflict. Then, whether such behavior leads to improved well-being.
Results suggest that adolescents use compulsive buying to cope with family conflict. The study’s focus on family conflict, not simply divorce, expands its implications to all households, intact or not.
This study created a new model of family conflict’s impact on adolescent consumers’ attitudes and behavior.
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