Examining Materialism in the Young

By Mark Reutter, Business & Law Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – As Christmas approaches, many people blame advertising for stoking the desire among teenagers to own the latest and best in computers, clothes, toys, video games, jewelry, sports equipment and cosmetics.

Some groups have criticized advertisers for manipulating children to demand an endless array of consumer products, while others have decried the creeping placement of branded goods in public schools.

But despite the finger pointing, relatively little is known about how materialistic values develop in childhood and adolescence, a University of Illinois researcher says.

“Materialism has long been of interest to consumer researchers, but research has centered on adult consumers, not children or teens,” says Lan Nguyen Chaplin, a professor of marketing in the U. of I. College of Business.

To get a better handle on the issue, Chaplin and co-investigator Deborah Roedder John, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, looked at three age groups

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