Despite decades of research on materialism, there are few viable strategies for reducing materialism in younger consumers. In this paper, we present two studies conducted among over 900 adolescents that reveal a promising strategy for decreasing materialism: fostering gratitude. In Study 1, results from a nationally representative survey showed that children and adolescents with a grateful disposition were less materialistic. In Study 2, experimental evidence showed that an intervention designed to increase gratitude (i.e. keeping a gratitude journal) significantly reduced materialism among adolescents and also attenuated materialism’s negative effect on generosity. Using real money and donation as a behavioral measure, we found that adolescents who kept a gratitude journal donated 60% more of their earnings to charity compared to those in the control condition. We discuss the implications of our findings, offer some suggestions for putting our results into action, and provide an agenda for future research in this domain.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the children and staff (who wish to remain anonymous) at summer camps in Arizona and Pennsylvania for their participation, as well as Rachel Gottlieb and Rachel Rose for their editorial help in the later stages of this manuscript. The authors also thank Harris Interactive for underwriting the cost of data collection for Study 1. This research was funded by research support from University of Arizona, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Villanova University and University of Illinois at Chicago.
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