Family Obstacle Course
Level of materialism predicts whether parents view family as an obstacle to work goals.
Materialistic people may be more likely to view their families as an obstacle to work than their less acquisitive peers, says a study from Temple University. The study, led by assistant professor Mark Promislo and colleagues John Deckop, Robert Giacalone and Carole Jurkiewicz, examined the relationship between materialism and work-family conflict, evaluating the attitudes of 274 people via questionnaire. Using two questionnaires—one to assess their perception of how much their families obstruct their work goals, and one measuring their levels of materialism—researchers found a relationship between the two.
What inspired the researchers to examine the relationship between materialism and family-work conflict? Promislo says he was interested to figuring out what people valued and why.
“I was already interested in work-family conflict and had started to do research in that area,” he explains. “I became interested in how we form values and how they are influenced, and to see if there was a connection.”
Surprisingly, there were no gender differences found in the study results.
“The lack of gender differences surprised me a bit; research shows that men score high in materialistic values, and some studies show gender difference, since traditional model is that the men are the breadwinners and the women were not,” Promislo notes.
Changing social roles may be the cause of the closing gender gap in this ares, he says.
“Maybe because men and women are both working and there are opportunities for both to make money, we didn’t find a gender difference,” Promislo says. “There are plenty of households where women out earn men, and some men are stay-at-home [fathers].”
What of the stereotype of women being more materialistic than men, coveting designer handbags, clothes, and other items?
Social comparison plays a role, he explains.
“The concept of materialism includes not just striving for money and material objects, but also a comparison between oneself and someone else,” Promislo explains. “Perhaps a man compares his car with his neighbor’s, whereas a woman compares beauty; they may be materialistic in other ways.”
Reaction to the study has been very positive and far-reaching, even intriguing London-based reporters, the researcher adds.
“People understand the topic of materialism and they have either experienced it in their own lives, or they themselves have those feelings,” he maintains. “People relate to work and family, they try to balance all those things. They can relate to it very well.”
How would the challenging economy affect feelings regarding materialism—that is, are more people becoming less materialistic and if so, would that affect their values regarding the work vs. family?
“There is other research that has found that when people are threatened with not having basic economic security, they tend to become more materialistic,” Promislo explains. “The recession focuses people more on money.”
“Economic swings have an impact and other research shows that people become usually more materialistic—this is referring to the basics, not luxury items, and there is debate over what is basic versus luxury item,” he contends.
In fact, as the challenging economic times continue, what we consider luxuries versus basic necessities has been changing, he adds.
“Pew research asked Americans what is considered a basic versus luxury and it did change over a few years as the recession came into place and the economy spun out of control,” Promislo says. “Things that used to be a necessity are no longer a necessity—like cable TV.”
|< Prev||Next >|
"The breadth of topics covered on demodirt.com is always timely and the depth is always outstanding."
--Leslie G. Ungar, professional speaker, executive coach, and strategist at Electric Impulse Communications