An examination of generalised implicit biases towards ‘wanting more’ as a proxy measure of materialistic behaviour: A Relational Frame Theory (RFT) perspective

Brian Pennie & Michelle E. Kelly

The research investigated the contextual effects of mood on implicit measures of ‘wanting more’ as a proxy of materialism and investigated the basic verbal processes underpinning this behaviour. Sixty university students were recruited to participate. Participants were exposed to either a positive (n = 21), negative (n = 20) or neutral (n = 19) mood induction procedure; an Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) examining biases towards wanting more or less; and questionnaires assessing life satisfaction (Satisfaction with Life Scale; SWLS), materialism (Material Values Scale; MVS), and positive and negative affect (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule; PANAS). On the IRAP, shorter mean response latencies across consistent (more-good/less-bad) compared to inconsistent (more-bad/less-good) trial-blocks were interpreted as an implicit bias towards ‘wanting more’. Compared to the neutral mood condition, participants in the positive mood condition demonstrated an increased bias towards ‘wanting less’ (p = .028). Several predicted associations were also observed. Measures of negative affect and reduced life satisfaction were significantly associated with an implicit bias towards ‘wanting more’ (rs's ranging from − .455 to − .565, p's ranging from .01 to .038), while reduced levels of materialism were significantly correlated with an implicit bias towards wanting less (rs = .579, p = .006). The findings provide preliminary support for the IRAP as a generalised implicit measure of ‘wanting more’ as a proxy of materialism; and suggest that changes in mood may influence this effect. Findings are discussed from a Relational Frame Theory (RFT) perspective.

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