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Tackling Materialism and Overconsumption on a Finite Planet: The Development, Implementation and Evaluation of an Educational Intervention to Decrease Materialistic Values and Excessive Consumption Behaviour

Genovese, Jane C. (2017) Tackling Materialism and Overconsumption on a Finite Planet: The Development, Implementation and Evaluation of an Educational Intervention to Decrease Materialistic Values and Excessive Consumption Behaviour. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Despite the drivers of excessive material consumption being well documented, little research has examined if educational interventions can address consumption and its underlying materialistic values. This thesis explores if an educational intervention can decrease materialistic values and excessive consumption behaviour at the individual level. An intervention utilising a combination of two key strategies (emulating voluntary simplicity practices; and cultivating mindfulness) was developed, implemented, and evaluated.

The research consists of two phases. Phase 1 informs the design of the intervention through interview (n = 29) and survey (n = 443) data. Positive correlational relationships were found between materialistic values and variables such as ecological footprint and television consumption. A negative relationship was found between
materialistic values and psychological well-being. No significant differences were found between voluntary simplifiers and non-simplifiers on a range of measures including ecological footprint, mindfulness and psychological well-being. In-depth interviews with voluntary simplifiers (n = 15) and non-simplifiers (n = 14) identified the key practices of voluntary simplifiers, which included thoughtful purchasing, limiting television consumption, avoiding processed foods, reducing (paid) work hours and avoiding shopping centres. These practices were encouraged throughout the intervention and combined with mindfulness training.

Phase 2 consists of a wait-list control design evaluation. The treatment effects of the intervention were evaluated using ANCOVA comparing post-test and pre-test scores, with a comprehensive set of variables as the covariate. Twelve-week follow-up data from treatment and wait-list groups determined if changes were maintained. The educational intervention significantly reduced materialistic values in the short-term but changes were not maintained at 12-week follow-up. This highlighted that it is challenging to maintain intrinsic values in a highly materialistic environment. The intervention influenced overconsumption behaviour, with a significant increase in participant adoption of simple living practices. These changes were maintained at 12-week follow-up.

The evidence suggests an educational intervention can be an effective strategy for decreasing materialistic values and excessive consumption in the short-term; however, ongoing support and structural changes are required to ensure maintenance of such shifts in values and behaviour.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor: Baudains, C. and Bailey, John
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/36312
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