Psychological Correspondence of Possessions, Attitudes, and Values

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Three studies were conducted to investigate individual consistency in the psychological functions of possessions, attitudes, and values. In the first study, participants listed favorite possessions, which other subjects classified by their similarity in source of value. The similarity data were analyzed using multidimensional scaling. In Study 2, new subjects rated each possession on four scales that represented subjective interpretations of the scaling dimensions, and mean scale ratings of objects were regressed over the scaling solution. The primary dimension distinguished symbolic or self-expressive objects (e.g., family heirlooms) from instrumental objects (e.g., a stereo). In Study 3, individual consistency in orientation toward symbolic or instrumental possessions, attitudes, and values was examined. The same subjects who listed possessions in Study 1 indicated their favorability toward symbolic and instrumental appeals and values. On the basis of the locations of their possessions in the scaling solution, individuals were classified into symbolic and instrumental possession groups, and attitudes and values of the two groups were compared. Results indicate that the self-expressive function of possessions, attitudes, and values is consistent within individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1003
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1987
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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