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

Sabrina Helm, Joyce Serido, Sun Young Ahn, Victoria Ligon, Soyeon Shim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Purpose: 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. Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on an online survey among a panel of young American adults (N = 968). Findings: 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. Originality/value: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-284
Number of pages21
JournalYoung Consumers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 21 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Climate change
  • Environmental coping
  • Materialism
  • Proactive financial coping
  • Subjective well-being
  • Sustainable consumption


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