Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Teen Materialism and Self-Esteem

From Dads and Daughters:

New research indicates that materialism in children and adolescents is directly connected to their self esteem.
The University of Minnesota’s Deborah Roedder John and University of Illinois’s Lan Nguyen Chaplin found that materialism increases from middle childhood (8 and 9 years old) to early adolescence (12 and 13 years old) but then declines by the end of high school (16 to 18 years old). This mirrors patterns in self-esteem, which instead decreases in early adolescence but increases in late adolescence.

"The level of materialism in teens is directly driven by self-esteem," said John. "When self-esteem drops as children enter adolescence, materialism peaks. Then by late adolescence, when self-esteem rebounds, their materialism drops."

In a second study, John and Chaplin boosted self-esteem by giving children positive information about peer acceptance. In a summer camp setting, children were given paper plates with positive descriptors about them, such as "smart" and "fun," which were provided by their peers. This simple gesture drastically reduced the high levels of materialism found among 12- to 13-year-olds and the moderate levels of materialism found among 16- to 18-year-olds.

“By simply increasing self-esteem in teens, we see a decreased focus on material goods that parallels that of young children,” said John. “While peers and marketing can certainly influence teens, materialism is directly connected to self-esteem." Read more

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