BYU study: materialism devalues marriage
Jason Carroll, a professor of marriage and family studies at BYU, led the study along with two graduate students, Ashley LeBaron and Heather Kelly.
“We know that materialism can lead to poor money management and that leads to debt and strain, but financial factors may not be the only issue at play in these situations,” Carroll said. “Materialism is not an isolated life priority; as the pursuit of money and possessions are prioritized, it appears that other dimensions of life, such as relationships, are de-emphasized.”
Carroll's team interviewed 1,310 married people to measure how materialism is linked to the perception of marriage and marital satisfaction.
Each participant was given statements such as, “Having nice things today is more important to me than saving for the future” and “Having money is very important to me.” They were then asked to rank how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statements, according to BYU.
Carroll's team found the higher levels of materialism in a marriage, the lower level of marital satisfaction and a decreased perception of the importance of marriage.
The study claims one possible cause is materialism "crowds out other life priorities and creates a scarcity of time for other relationship priorities such as communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy," according to Jon McBride of BYU.
The study also found folks who are materialistic may take a possession-based approach to happiness in marriage rather than a relationship-based approach.
“Marriage dissatisfaction occurs because those who highly value money and possessions are likely to value their marriage less, and are thus likely to be less satisfied in their relationship,” said LeBaron, the study's lead author.
“Many people are not fully aware of their materialism or the degree to which the pursuit of money is becoming an unbalanced priority in their life," Carroll said. "It is helpful for spouses to evaluate and openly discuss the time patterns in their lives and make sure they are devoting enough time to prioritize and strengthen their marriage relationship.”
BYU's findings have been published in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues.