If children won lotteries: materialism, gratitude and imaginary windfall spending

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jonathan R. Tudge, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Purpose: Despite USA’s emphasis on children as consumers with great spending power, little is known about their actual spending preferences and how they might be linked to personal character traits such as materialism and gratitude. This study aims to address this literature gap by examining children’s spending preferences in an imaginary windfall scenario, as well as main and interactive effects of materialism and gratitude on such preferences. Design/methodology/approach: This was a school-based research study. Survey methodology was used in which self-report measures were collected from 247 7-14-year-old children (58 per cent male). Findings: Results suggest that materialism was significantly associated with saving resources and allocating less money to charity. Gratitude was related to more charitable giving. One interactive effect was found whereby the link between more materialism and saving was attenuated by high levels of gratitude. Contrary to expectations, no age or gender differences in spending preferences or materialism were found, but older children and girls reported higher gratitude than did younger children and boys. Research limitations/implications: Although cross-sectional data limit conclusions regarding directionality, the results have implications for understanding children’s consumer behavior, as well as children’s well-being, self-regulation and ability to delay gratification. Practical implications: The results suggest that materialism, with its emphasis on consumption, and gratitude, with its positive feedback loop that encourages prosocial connections, are particularly relevant avenues to continue examining in future research on youth consumer patterns. Social implications: Gratitude not only promotes social connectedness but also is more environmentally sustainable in promoting appreciation for what one has rather than wanting more. Uncovering ways that these characteristics are linked to hypothetical and, ultimately, actual spending behavior reflects a meaningful contribution to the field. Originality/value: This paper fills gaps in the literature by examining links between specific character traits and potential spending behaviors, with deeper implications for children’s psychosocial development, self-regulation and environmental sustainability.

Additional Information

Young Consumers, 17(4), 404–418
Language: English
Date: 2016
Childhood studies, Quantitative methods, Developmental psychology, Purchase requests

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