MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: This study was a really fun one for me. Previous research had linked materialism with lower marital satisfaction. However, no one had really looked into why that is–what is it about materialism that tends to facilitate less-happy marriages? As I thought about it and explored different theories, I came to the hypothesis that perhaps it is a matter of competing values.
Perhaps those who highly value money and possessions are less likely to highly value their marriage, and then subsequently do not put into their relationship the time, effort, etc. needed for high marital satisfaction. And that’s exactly what our findings show! Perception of marriage importance mediated (i.e., explained) the negative association between materialism and marital satisfaction. Of course it is more complex than this and there are likely other mediators out there, but I think this was an important contribution to the couple finance field.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Well, here’s what I personally took away from these findings: Be intentional about your priorities. Ask yourself 1) What things are most important to me? 2) Are my priorities reflected in how I spend my money, time, and energy?
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: First of all, this study used cross-sectional data, and of course there are plenty of limitations that go along with that (e.g., we can’t conclude causation, only correlation, and any causal implications must rely on theory). I would love to see this study replicated with longitudinal data. I’d also love to see other potential mediators explored. Finally, as I mention in the paper, I was restricted by the measures I was using…and the measure of materialism wasn’t ideal. Using a more nuanced measure (i.e., Richins & Dawson, 1992), future research could explore the relational impact of various dimensions of materialism.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: A huge thanks to my two amazing co-authors! They are wonderful to work with and made important contributions to this paper. Here’s a link to the full article: http://rdcu.be/DK8V
Ashley B. LeBaron, Heather H. Kelley, Jason S. Carroll. Money Over Marriage: Marriage Importance as a Mediator Between Materialism and Marital Satisfaction. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s10834-017-9563-2
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