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A cross-cultural exploration of materialism in adolescents


Allen D. Schaefer, Department of Marketing, Southwest Missouri State University, 901 S. National Avenue, Springfield, MO 65804, USA. E-mail:


To date, few studies have empirically examined specific values with respect to the global teenager hypothesis. In testing the global teenager hypothesis, this study investigates similarities and differences in materialism among 14- to 17-year olds in China, Japan and the USA. Significant differences were found between respondents from the three nations for materialism and discretionary spending power. Discretionary spending power had a significant effect on materialism across nations. In addition, evidence supports cross-national differences in the psychological structure of the materialism construct. While personal gain and social gain explain two materialism dimensions for the Japanese and American samples, factor analysis results suggest materialism may have alternative conceptual underpinnings in China. The findings of this study generally fail to support the global teenager hypothesis as it relates to the value of materialism.