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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Similarities and dissimilarities in the phenomenology of materialism and spirituality in relationship to money
by Manheim, Thomas Conte, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2007, 170; 3266764
Abstract (Summary)

The primary purpose of this dissertation was to examine the similarities and dissimilarities in the phenomenology of materialism and spirituality in relationship to money. This research examined whether individuals of faith-based sites score high on spirituality and low on materialism and whether individuals of secular sites score low on spirituality and high on materialism, as well as differences across sites. Empirical studies on materialism showed a negative correlation between materialism and life satisfaction, a positive correlation with psychological tension, and that individuals with spiritual connections to God/higher-self experienced life fulfillment. A secondary purpose was to explore the spiritual use of money, in which individuals engage in both service to humanity and responsible actions with money.

Participants included 87 individuals (51 from faith-based sites and 36 from secular sites) and data were collected through a sequential mixed-method (quantitative-qualitative) design. Data were collected using the Material Values Scale, Expression of Spirituality Inventory, and a demographic questionnaire. The top 15% of high scorers (n = 12) in each category (spirituality n = 6, and materialism n = 6) were invited to participate in an interview, focused on the participants’ lived experiences of money and spirituality.

The researcher and co-rater, utilizing a seven-step procedure, analyzed the data, which resulted in 13 higher-ordered themes. The most central themes were that the discovery of a higher self affects spiritual use of money and that money confers status, yet may not increase satisfaction. Overall, individuals from secular sites were less spiritual and more materialistic. Significant findings were that participants struggled with maintaining a balance between the opposites of materialism and spirituality, fear of poverty kept participants centered in a material lifestyle, and a group of participants was identified as being caught between desiring material comforts and the spiritual rewards of fulfillment found in service.

Knowledge of why individuals emphasize either material self-oriented use of money or collective service may contribute to further understanding of individuals’ behaviors in general. Finally, this research speaks to the importance of studying the relationship between spirituality and materialism as a means to determine how individuals can achieve a balance in their lives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Diaz-Laplante, Jeannette
School: Saybrook University
Department: Humanistic & Transpersonal Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 68/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Economics, Psychology
Keywords: Materialism, Money, Spirituality
Publication Number: 3266764
ISBN: 978-0-549-05335-4
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