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COVID may have made us less materialistic – new research

Writer : Olaya Moldes Andrés, Lecturer in Advertising, Cardiff College

The early days of COVID introduced a brand new sense of urgency to buying sure objects. Rest room paper, pasta and bread flew off the cabinets as folks stocked up on very important provides. Then got here the must-have purchases to assist with the tedium of lockdowns, with sizzling tubs, kitchen devices and new pets changing into extraordinarily widespread purchases. So did the pandemic make us usually extra materialistic?

Actually, analysis suggests {that a} tendency in direction of materialistic behaviour – a give attention to buying cash and possessions that sign financial and social standing – is brought on by excessive ranges of stress, nervousness and loneliness. For a lot of, the pandemic has been a anxious, anxious and lonely interval.

Materialism can be fuelled by media consumption. And early reviews discovered that in intervals of lockdown and social restrictions, folks grew to become much more glued to their screens than earlier than.

However regardless of these circumstances which could have been anticipated to make folks extra materialistic, our analysis suggests that the other was true. We requested folks within the UK about their beliefs and values earlier than and after the arrival of COVID and located that, total, most individuals have moved to caring much less about cash and materials positive aspects.

They rated objectives like “being financially profitable” and “having a job that pays effectively” decrease than earlier than. Different social values to do with self-acceptance and sharing our lives “with somebody I like” remained the identical.

We imagine that these modifications is likely to be defined by different components associated to the pandemic. For instance, COVID targeted consideration on the significance of well being. Additionally, promoting and social media promoted social values like solidarity and coping with the challenges of a shared expertise.

Not all of our respondents had the identical response, it must be stated. We used numerous knowledge assortment strategies to ask a consultant pattern of the UK inhabitants, and individuals who have been extra uncovered to the media and extra anxious about COVID, have been seen to show larger ranges of materialism. However, we discovered an total discount in folks’s materials pursuits.

Contemporary focus

There could also be advantages to such a change in perspective. Analysis has discovered that materialism results in decrease ranges of happiness and life satisfaction, in addition to inflicting unfavourable moods and nervousness.

But widespread tradition and social media make materialism onerous to keep away from. From a very early age, many kids shortly be taught to affiliate materials achieve with rewards for good behaviour.

As they grow old, they uncover that issues can assist us to current ourselves in a extra interesting means, and achieve different folks’s consideration. Materials objects steadily develop into extremely desired prizes that additionally assist us to beat a few of our perceived shortfalls.

So as to add to the attraction, the media and promoting sectors usually promote materialistic beliefs via tales and pictures that hyperlink cash and consumption to happiness, excessive self‐esteem and social recognition.

Learn extra:
Promoting within the pandemic: how corporations used COVID as a advertising and marketing software

After all, massive advertisers and advertising and marketing departments didn’t fully keep away from their conventional strategies throughout COVID. Our analysis additionally revealed a better variety of social media posts from manufacturers selling consumption as a means to deal with unfavourable feelings and enhance wellbeing.

This, mixed with a widespread discount in worth positioned on monetary and materials achieve, might ultimately result in the event of polarised mindsets. On the one facet, it’s potential that many individuals will proceed the pattern initiated by COVID and slowly drift away from consumerism, probably bringing deep social penalties: it could already be a part of the explanation for the “nice resignation” within the labour market, the place a better than ordinary proportion of staff have determined to give up their jobs.

On the opposite facet, although, the upper variety of adverts and on-line messages which current spending as a path to happiness might have the other consequence. These extra uncovered to social media, like youngsters and younger adults, could also be extra prone to embrace materialism, and encounter among the unfavourable results it brings.

This sort of polarised considering might grow to be a part of the long-term social influence of the worldwide well being disaster, with critical ramifications for youthful generations. A pandemic which pushed many away from the damaging results of materialism could have pulled others a lot nearer in direction of them.


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