I recently read an article on Medical News Today which was just too good to pass up.
Facts from the article:
- materialistic people are less likely to develop feelings of gratitude for what they have
- we develop a kind of “reference point” to gauge our wealth; for materialistic people, their reference point always rises, which leads to an obsession with acquiring the latest item
- gratitude in adolescents is associated with high life satisfaction
- “Treadmill of Consumption”: no matter how many items we purchase (read: no matter how fast we run on the treadmill), we will never reach happiness
My Opinion (warning; the ramblings of a biased, high school student ahead. Read at your own risk.):
- First of all, despite the attention-grabbing title of the article (“Materialistic people ‘more likely to be depressed and unsatisfied’ “), the article never explicitly presents any statistics, which rightfully raises some skepticism. Is this poor, unfortunate group of people 50% more likely or merely 1% more likely? Were the results so close and insignificant that the author of the research paper realized that his or her claim was more substantial by defying the basic principles of logos? Without having established this basic premise, I find that I must take the rest of the article with a grain–no, a cellar–of salt.
- The bias of the survey. According to the article, the survey was conducted amongst university students in the marketing department. Though the survey targeted a very small faction of society (what about the middle-age workers, the rich, the retired, or the homeless??), the results derived from the survey are used to create a blanket statement regarding materialistic people as a whole.
- The very definition of materialistic is nebulous as well. Obviously, the fine line between needs and luxuries varies from person to person, household to household, and country to country. The means by which the survey measured “materialism, gratitude” were never established either. After all, what if one person expresses gratitude in a different manner than another?
In writing this article, I do not intend to disprove or undermine the research done by Baylor students, merely point out some of the aspects of their work that I find less than substantial. Whether we be researchers or bloggers, we have a responsibility to put forth the most unbiased and accurate information we have accrued, knowing that the body of knowledge we contribute to may very well become the basis for the next generation. All seriousness aside, the article ended with this quote from Epicurus: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
In keeping with the style of the article, I find it only fitting that I should end with my own beloved quote. Here goes: “The thing about quotes on the Internet is you can not confirm their validity.”
The best part? It was said by Abraham Lincoln.