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EMAC 2022 Annual

Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Made Us More Materialistic? The Effect of COVID-19 and Lockdown Restrictions on the Endorsement of Materialism

Published: May 24, 2022


Olaya Moldes, Cardiff University; Denitsa Dineva, Cardiff University; Lisbeth Ku, De Montfort University


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the factors that typically facilitate the endorsement of materialistic values (e.g., higher media consumption, stress and anxiety, loneliness, death anxiety, and lower moods). In this paper, we examine how contextual changes affecting the antecedents of materialism influence its advocacy with a mixed-method approach. First, a correlational study (Study 1) suggests that increases in media consumption and stress and anxiety during the pandemic predicted current levels of materialism, however these effects were limited. Second, contrary to our expectations, a longitudinal study (Study 2) shows that people’s focus on money decreased during the pandemic. Last, a social media content analysis (Study 3) reveals a downward trend in users’ online discourses about consumption-related behaviours, but an upward trend in brands promoting spending as a way to attain well-being. The observed changes could fuel deeper societal changes in the labour market and in consumer behaviours, and have further implications for individual and societal well-being in a post-pandemic world.