Comparing materialism in the USA with materialism in China
After reading chapters six and seven, I decided to focus my blended day activity on the concept of materialism. Materialism is the “belief that possessions are important in life” and despite capitalism being the dominant economic system around the world, it is a concept that most capitalist countries attribute to United States of America (Jante, 2013). Along with the U.S., China is also being considered one of the most materialistic countries, with their economy developing rapidly and becoming increasingly westernized. In order to research the topic, I conducted a textual analysis of two studies that compare the prevalence of materialism in American consumers with that of Chinese consumers.
The two texts I analyzed are published journals: the first addressing materialism in younger Chinese and American consumers; and the other analyzing the same issues, but from the perspective of older consumers.
The first study documented the results of an electronic survey administered to a sample in both the United States and China. “Respondents included 186 students at a large mid-western public University in the United States and 314 students at a large satellite university in Dalian, China” (Parker, 2010). The majority of the students ranged from 18 to 26 years of age, and the electronic survey consisted of statements which dealt with materialism. The students were asked to rate each item on a scale which ranged from “strongly disagree” = 1 to “strongly agree” = 5. Some of the statements included were “When I watch commercials, I usually want what is shown”, “Most people who have a lot of money are happier’, and “Money is not everything” (Parker, 2010). The results were interesting and concluded that, overall, both the American students and the Chinese students displayed similar levels of materialism. Both samples had almost identical responses in terms of “defining success”, “pursuit of happiness”, and “acquisition centrality”.
The second study I analyzed addressed the concept of materialism between American and Chinese consumers who were much older than those in the first study. The range was 50 to 86 years of age, with the average overall age being 63.2 (Wei; Talpade, 2009). Similar to the previous study, it also took the form of a survey, providing statements to be ranked on a scale based on the level of agreement/disagreement with each statement. The study aimed to assess the level of the respondents’ overall materialism, but also in relation to cognitive age (the age respondents “feel”), life satisfaction, and physical health status. The study concluded that mature Chinese consumers were, overall, more materialistic than their American counterparts. The Chinese respondents also reported lower satisfaction with their lives, and being in poorer physical health. It was concluded “that life satisfaction and physical health status are negatively related to materialism” which illustrates that adults in situations where they are in poor health or have little satisfaction with their lives are likely to be more materialistic (Wei; Talpade, 2009).
In conclusion, it was interesting to analyze both studies, and discover that American students are not more materialistic than Chinese students. What was even more intriguing to discover was that mature Chinese consumers are actually more materialistic than their American counterparts. I, and I am sure many others, would be skeptical to believe this before analyzing the study. Obviously the parameters may have played a significant role in the results, and other factors such as geographical location may have provided different results, however, based on my textual analysis it would be fair to conclude that American consumers are not more materialistic than the Chinese consumers.
Jandt, Fred Edmund. Barriers to Intercultural Communication. An Introduction to Intercultural Communication: Identities in a Global Community. 7th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2013. Print.
Parker, R. Stephen, Diana Haytko, and Charles Hermans. "The Perception of Materialism in a Global Market: A Comparison of Younger Chinese and United States Consumers." Journal Of International Business And Cultural Studies (2010): n. pag. Print.
Wei, Yujie, and Salil Talpade. "Materialism, Fashion Consumers and Gender: A Cross-cultural Study." International Journal of Consumer Studies 35.1 (2010): n. pag. Web