The Material Values Scale: Measurement Properties and Development of a Short Form

Authors: Marsha L. Richins, University of Missouri

Publication: Journal of Consumer Research

Year: 2004

Focus Area: Profile

Relevance: Accurate assessment of materialism could facilitate more accurate fraud victim profiles.

Summary: Materialism is defined in this article as “the importance ascribed to the ownership and acquisition of material goods in achieving major life goals or desired states.” The current (in 2004) survey to measure materialism includes 18 questions. The author, who also co-authored the 18-question survey, suggests that a shorter survey could make materialism easier to assess.

  • A meta-analysis of 44 articles shows that the full-length survey is consistent with itself across many studies, but that it can be influenced by socially desireable responding; that is, subjects respond with the socially acceptable response, rather than their true feeling or belief.
  • By analyzing excerpted questions from the full-length survey, the author found that shorter versions of the survey are reliable indicators of materialism.
  • A revised and improved 15-question survey provides more reliable results than the original 18-question survey. Of the short versions tested, the nine-question survey had the best results when compared to the 15-question revised survey. The specific questions used in each survey are included in this article.

Abstract (from the authors): In recent years, a number of studies have used the material values scale (MVS) developed by Richins and Dawson (1992) to examine materialism as a facet of consumer behavior. This research examines the MVS in light of the accumulated evidence concerning this measure. A review of published studies reporting information about the scale and analysis of 15 raw data sets that contain the MVS and other measures revealed that the MVS performs well in terms of reliability and empirical usefulness, but the dimensional structure proposed by Richins and Dawson is not always evident in the data. This article proposes a 15-item measure of the MVS that has better dimension properties than the original version. It also reports the development of a short version of the MVS. Scale lengths of nine, six, and three items were investigated. Results indicate that the nine-item version possesses acceptable psychometric properties when used to measure materialism at a general level. This article also describes a psychometric approach for developing shorter versions of extant multiitem measures.

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