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The Going Gets Tough, So Let's Go Shopping: On Materialism, Coping, and Consumer Behaviors Under Traumatic Stress

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This study investigated the way in which exposure to traumatic stress, posttraumatic reactions, and materialistic values impact coping and maladaptive consumption behaviors in a real-life traumatic situation. One hundred thirty-nine Israelis were sampled from a town under constant rocket fire (a high-stress environment), and 187 comparison respondents were sampled from a low-stress location. Our data show a main effect for materialism for all of the distress and maladaptive consumer behaviors under study, as well as for most coping behaviors with the exception of interpersonal expressive coping. In the high-stress group, interpersonal expressive coping, reflecting an inclination to utilize social support, was highest among mildly materialistic individuals. Highly materialistic persons were, presumably, more oriented to objects than humans, rendering a more support-seeking way of coping less relevant for them. Highly materialistic participants in the high-stress group reported the highest levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms. The results of this study also suggest that the pleasures of shopping cannot attenuate posttraumatic distress and that maladaptive shopping behaviors increase with the level of traumatic exposure.
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Keywords: Israel; civilians; terror; trauma; war

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Social Work, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel 2: Fox School of Business, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2014

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