Materialistic people are likely to have significantly more friends than people who are less interested in possessions and they are also likely to use social media more frequently and intensely, says a study.
Materialistic people see and treat their Facebook friends as “digital objects,” said the study published in the journal Heliyon.
The study revealed that materialistic people use Facebook to both achieve their goals and feel good.
“Materialistic people use Facebook more frequently because they tend to objectify their Facebook friends – they acquire Facebook friends to increase their possession,” said lead author Phillip Ozimek from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.
Materialists also have a greater need to compare themselves with others on Facebook, the study said.
“Facebook provides the perfect platform for social comparisons, with millions of profiles and information about people. And it’s free-materialists love tools that do not cost money,” Ozimek added.
For the study, the researchers first conducted an online questionnaire with 242 Facebook users.
The results suggested that the link between materialism and Facebook activity can be partly explained by materialists displaying a stronger social comparison orientation, having more Facebook friends, and objectifying and instrumentalising their friends more intensely.
The authors replicated the approach with a separate sample of 289 Facebook users and they reached the same conclusions.
The researchers explained that for materialists, Facebook is a tool to learn how far away they are from their goal to become wealthy.
“Social media platforms are not that different from other activities in life – they are functional tools for people who want to attain goals in life, and some might have negative consequences for them or society,” Ozimek explained.
“We found that materialists instrumentalise their friends, but they also attain their goal to compare themselves to others,” Ozimek added.