A study by the University of Virginia found that people who said they were “more materialistic” were less likely to have positive feelings about themselves and others, according to a new study.
The research, published online in the journal Social Psychology of Health and Medicine, was based on data from more than 100,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 75.
It also included interviews with 3,500 students from a high school and college.
People who were more materialistic in the study were more likely to say that they had a low sense of self-worth, and they were more often concerned about their physical health and how their health was perceived by others, said lead author David A. Langer, a psychology professor at the University at Albany.
“This suggests that if we want to be more aware of our material needs, we need to be aware of these self-reinforcing and self-limiting patterns,” Langer said.
“They become very evident as you move through life.”
The study focused on people who self-identified as “not materialistic,” meaning they rated themselves on a scale of 0 to 10 on a 10-point scale of how much they value their material interests.
The researchers looked at how much materialism people self-rated, and how much it influenced their feelings about other people.
For instance, people who rated themselves “less materialistic, but also not materialistic enough” were more apt to report feelings of loneliness, depression and selflessness.
The study also looked at people who reported they had some type of psychological or social disorder.
The participants who self identified as “having some kind of psychological disorder” were also more likely than those who didn’t to say they felt lonely, depressed and selfless.
The survey also looked specifically at people in the U.K. and the U., and those who self reported having a mental illness, according, to the researchers.
Lighter materialistic people are less likely than their more materialist counterparts to have a higher sense of personal worth, said the study’s lead author, Michael Gollop, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the university.
“People who are more materialistically inclined are more likely in the United States and Europe to report that they are not satisfied with their lives,” Gollap said.
Lager said it was interesting to find that self-reported self-esteem also varied across cultures.
In some cultures, materialism was seen as a positive trait.
In others, it was considered a negative one.
For example, in China, people were taught to value material goods over the self, and to be mindful of their surroundings, Langer noted.
People in Western cultures were taught that selfless behavior and material possessions were important to their happiness.
“But when it comes to happiness, materialistic thinking is more prevalent in Western culture, and therefore is more of a negative trait,” he said.
In a follow-up study, Lager’s colleagues also found that a lack of materialistic thought was associated with lower self-efficacy, which is how people evaluate their own life and their life’s value, he said