Have you ever wondered how materialistic are you? Not in a Yes/No kinda way, but on a scale.
Well, I was reading the book 59 Seconds: Think A Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman and randomly stumbled on a quiz to measure materialism.
(I loved the book and would recommend it. Click the link above to purchase – its on Big Bad Wolf so until stocks last!)
Am I Materialistic? A Self-Assessment
So, how materialistic are you? Take a few moments to read the following ten statements, and assign each of them a rating to indicate the degree to which they describe you.
Don’t spend too long thinking about each statement, answer honestly, and no peeking at the answers.
Rating: 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree. Give yourself a score of 1 for each statement you strongly disagree with, 2 for disagree, 3 for neutral, 4 for agree and 5 for strongly agree.
- I am impressed by people who own expensive cars and houses.
- I tend to judge how well I am doing in life by the possessions I buy.
- I like to buy things I don’t really need.
- I like to be surrounded by expensive items.
- I think that my life would be better if I owned more luxury items.
- I am sometimes bothered by the fact that I can’t afford to buy certain luxury goods.
- Buying expensive items makes me feel good about myself.
- I seem to put more emphasis on material things than most of my friends and family.
- I am prepared to pay significantly more money for branded items.
- I enjoy owning items that others find impressive.
Now add up your ratings. Do you have low, medium or high materialism score?
- Low scores = between 10 and 20
- Medium scores = between 21 and 39
- High scores = between 40 and 50
I Scored High in Materialism. What Does That Mean?
People who scored high in materialism – sorry in advance for this part of the article, you’re not going to like it.. Basically, high scorers tend to be associated with feeling unhappy and unsatisfied with life.
According to the book, which references work by psychologists, (1) materialism takes root in early childhood, and (2) is mainly driven by low self-esteem.
I also found a study which theorises that materialistic people find it more difficult to be grateful for what they have, which causes them to become miserable.
What causes someone to become materialistic?
According to PIDM’s Why Don’t We Save More: Encouraging Malaysians’ Financial Resilience behaviourial study, there is a higher chance someone picked up their savings behaviours from their own family members.
I mean, the comparison is even comical. Look at the long grey bar (representing family) as opposed to other groups.
Ps – I find it fascinating that some people do get influenced by friends & peers and formal education, but not that many are influenced by professionals (financial planners or banks), authority figures (government and community leaders), and religion and religious figures.
So, don’t underestimate family’s influence on your personal finance. It’s by far the biggest factor on your savings behaviour. If they subscribe to materialism, chances are you will be too, unless you intentionally opt out.
Let people be materialistic, they can afford it!
Maybe some of you are like, so what? Materialistic people drive the economy. Plus who are you to dictate what people spend on, they know what they’re doing, if they buy luxury goods that means they can afford it!
Um, no. It’s a misconception that only high earners buy luxury goods.
If this Statista survey on Americans consumers is any indication, high income earners make up a bigger percentage, yes, but many Low and middle income people buy premium and luxury goods as well.
- Grey = low income
- Black = middle income
- Blue = high income
Where to go from here?
So, where do we go from here? It depends. If you scored low on the how materialistic are you quiz, you might feel a bit of a superiority complex, in a woohoo stuff doesn’t define me kinda way (I did).
If you scored high, there’s only 2 paths forward – earn higher salary to accomodate your desires, or use this as an opportunity to self-reflect on yourself and who influences your buying/purchasing behaviour. I’m not going to tell you which one to choose – honestly I’m indifferent to what you do since its your life not mine.
(However I must admit I hate it when capitalistic companies sell their products by using your self-esteem against you :/
(I’m not even joking about this. According to one study entitled Snobby Staff Can Boost Luxury Retail Sales, ‘participants who expressed an aspiration to be associated with high-end brands also reported an increased desire to own the luxury products after being treated poorly.‘)
Anyway, that’s what I have for you today. Comment with your score results, if you dare 🙂