-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Some people go shopping in
an attempt to cope with the stress of traumatic events, but it
actually makes things worse, according to a small, new study.
The researchers found that traumatic events cause more stress
for materialistic people and that they are more likely to spend
compulsively as a result. These people tend to have lower
self-esteem than others, according to Ayalla Ruvio, an assistant
professor of marketing at Michigan State University.
"When the going gets tough, the materialistic go shopping," Ruvio said in a university news release. "And this compulsive and impulsive spending is likely to produce even greater stress and lower well-being. Essentially, materialism appears to make bad events even worse."
The researchers surveyed 139 people from a southern Israeli town
that was targeted by rocket attacks for about six months in 2007,
and 170 people from another Israeli town that was not under
When faced with a deadly threat, highly materialistic people
reported higher levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms and
impulsive and compulsive shopping than those who were less
materialistic, according to the study recently published in the
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences.
"The relationship between materialism and stress may be more harmful than commonly thought," Ruvio said.
Post-traumatic stress can be triggered by a wide range of
events, including traffic crashes, natural disasters and criminal
attacks, the researchers noted.
The investigators also surveyed 855 Americans about their levels
of materialism and fear of death. The findings revealed that
materialistic people are more likely to try to relieve the fear of
death through impulsive and out-of-control spending.
The study results suggest that low self-esteem and fear of death
may drive materialism's intensifying effect on extreme stress,
according to the release. Future studies should examine the link
between stress and materialism in different contexts, Ruvio
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
post-traumatic stress disorder.
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