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Wednesday Research Seminar

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START DATE 10 May 2017

Oasis Theatre

END DATE 10 May 2017

Influencing factors of materialism among residents of the UAE: The role of mortality salience and spirituality

Anita Shrivastava, Jakob Pietschnig, Ainey Yousuf, and Seada Kassie

Middlesex University Dubai


According to the theoretical work on Terror Management theory (TMT), the management of existential insecurity and fears of mortality critically informs human behaviour.  The awareness of mortality (mortality salience or MS) has been implicated in consumer behaviour and materialistic aspirations, which are generally considered maladaptive (Burke, Martens, & Faucher, 2010). Most spiritual philosophies render materialistic pursuits incompatible with leading a meaningful life and recently spirituality has been shown to reduce the desire to consume conspicuously (Stillman, Finchan, Vohs, Lambert, & Phillips, 2012). The aim of the present study was to examine the influence of mortality salience and spirituality upon materialistic thinking. The hypothesis predicts that there will be a significant difference between type of schema (mortality salience, and spirituality) and materialistic thinking. The sample comprised of opportunistically recruited Psychology student volunteers. Data from twelve out of 72 originally recruited participants were discarded from analysis due to experimental attrition and missing data. Consequently, data from 60 (55f, mean age = 24.44, SD = 6.51) were included in our analyses. A within-subjects design with 3 conditions (mortality vs. spirituality vs. controls) was applied. Conditions were counterbalanced (i.e., 6 different possible sequences) and questionnaires were administered to the participants on the same day of 3 consecutive weeks. The participants were assessed on materialistic thinking after being provided with one of three different quotations in each week – one related to spirituality, one to mortality, and a neutral quotation. We did not find any significant differences in mean self-reported materialism scores between conditions (mortality vs. spirituality vs. control) in a repeated-measures analysis of variance (F (2, 58) = 1.143, p = .326, ηp² = .04). In view of these surprising results, reflections on the nature of materialism in a diversified domain of cultural and economic viewpoints are offered, along with implications on the conceptual foundations of TMT.


Dr. Anita Shrivastava Kashi is the Campus Coordinator of undergraduate and postgraduate psychology programs at Middlesex University Dubai. A clinical psychologist, she has several years of experience in teaching, research, and clinical practice. She is life member of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychology. Her research interest includes schizotypy, social aspects of mental illness, humor, and individual differences.

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