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Chronic Self-Doubters More Materialistic

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 674 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... CHRONIC SELF-DOUBTERS TEND TO BE MORE MATERIALISTIC,
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      Ohio State University
      August 7, 2002


      COLUMBUS, Ohio - People with chronic self-doubt may be more likely than
      others to define personal success by having the biggest house on the block
      or a new luxury car.

      A new study found that people with enduring feelings of self-doubt scored
      higher than others on a measure of materialism -- the tendency to value
      monetary success and material possessions over other goals in life.
      Specifically, they were more likely to believe that success was defined by
      what a person owns.

      "Feelings of self-doubt can send people looking for meaning in their lives,
      with a goal toward boosting their self-worth," said Robert Arkin, co-author
      of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

      "If they aren't deriving a sense of self-worth from other parts of their
      lives, they may feel that owning a lot of things proves they are

      Arkin conducted the study with LinChiat Chang, a graduate student in
      psychology at Ohio State. The study was published in a recent issue of the
      journal Psychology & Marketing.

      Arkin said research in countries around the world show that people tend to
      believe that materialism is a weakness of insecure people who doubt their

      However, he said there has not been much evidence to confirm that.

      In one study, Arkin and Chang had 416 undergraduate students complete a
      variety of measures that examined their levels of self-doubt, several forms
      of materialism, and other psychological traits.

      The results showed that people who were chronic self-doubters scored higher
      in materialism. In particular, they scored higher on a measure of
      materialism in which people define success in terms of what they own. For
      example, they were more likely to agree with statements such as "I like to
      own things that impress people" and "The things I own say a lot about how
      well I'm doing in life."

      The link between self-doubt and materialism was confirmed in a second study
      that found that inducing feelings of self doubt could increase materialistic
      tendencies in those with chronic self-doubt.

      This study involved 95 undergraduates -- half who scored high in chronic
      self-doubt and half who scored low.

      Participants were asked to memorize words by relating these words to their
      own personality and experiences. Half the subjects memorized self-doubt
      words (insecure, doubtful, uncertain, etc.) while the other half memorized
      words unrelated to self-doubt (inside, double, unicorn, etc.). Prior studies
      have shown that this technique increases feelings of insecurity in those who
      memorize doubt-related words. In this study, participants were asked about
      their current state of mind regarding materialism, rather than their
      long-term feelings.

      Results showed that when participants memorized doubt-related words, those
      who scored higher on chronic self-doubt showed significantly higher levels
      of current materialism than those who did not have chronic self-doubt.

      But among those who memorized the unrelated words, there was no difference
      in immediate feelings of materialism between the chronic self-doubters and
      the confident participants.

      "For those people who are chronically insecure, materialism seems to be a
      coping mechanism that they use when they are put in a situation that makes
      them doubtful about themselves," Arkin said.

      Arkin said it is noteworthy that self-doubters score high on a type of
      materialism that equates possessions with success.

      "Chronic self-doubters are not interested in possessions because they bring
      happiness or because they simply like owning a lot of things," Arkin said.
      "They are interested in possessions because of their meaning, the status
      they confer. They believe their possessions demonstrate success."

      That's why materialism can be seen as a coping response for people who are
      uncertain about their identity, he said.

      The results also showed that materialism is related to another type of
      uncertainty -- anomie. While chronic self-doubters tend to be uncertain
      about their own abilities and identity, those who score high in anomie tend
      to feel uncertainty related to their society and culture. They tend to feel
      rootless and believe society lacks clear guidelines for behavior.

      But whether a person suffers from anomie or self-doubt, Arkin said
      materialism is a poor coping mechanism. Other studies have shown that a
      materialistic orientation to life is linked with poor psychological
      functioning and lower life satisfaction.

      "The cycle of materialistic pursuits is disappointing and exhausting in the
      long run and can make people perpetually unhappy," Arkin said.

      It is better to find other goals in life and find areas where one can excel
      without resorting to material possessions as proof of success, he said.


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