What causes adolescents to be materialistic? Prior research shows parents and peers are an important influence. Researchers have viewed parents and peers as socialization agents that transmit consumption attitudes, goals, and motives to adolescents. We take a different approach, viewing parents and peers as important sources of emotional support and psychological well-being, which increase self-esteem in adolescents. Supportive parents and peers boost adolescents' self-esteem, which decreases their need to turn to material goods to develop positive self-perceptions. In a study with 12-18 year-olds, we find support for our view that self-esteem mediates the relationship between parent/peer influence and adolescent materialism.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge the guidance provided by the JCP editor, associate editor, and reviewers. The authors thank the staff, parents, and students of the St. Paul area recreation centers for their participation. This research was funded by support from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
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