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The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-being: An Evidence informed Model


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Advanced capitalism (AC) is a macro-economic and macro-cultural system that exerts profound influence on individual well-being. AC has led to great prosperity since the Second World War and has been of substantial benefit to well-being, providing levels of personal and political freedom, as well as infrastructure, health, and social provisions unheard of throughout most of human history. Nevertheless, growing levels of inequality within AC countries alongside recent economic stagnation and constraints have resulted in diminished opportunities and increasing insecurity for many citizens. This paper presents an integrative, evidence-informed model of the impact of AC on well-being. It considers the evidence in relation to this model and the hypothesis that AC can have detrimental consequences for well-being. The model identifies two distinct macro-cultural domains that interact to influence adjustment. The first domain involves marked increases in family instability and employment insecurity that characterize AC societies, creating AC-specific stressors in these areas. The second domain involves AC-specific socialization processes that promote success, status, and self-image, alongside the need to develop a market-driven identity. The model finds broad support for AC-specific stressors and variable support across AC-specific socialization processes. While there is evidence to inform each of the respective domains, interactions between domains have rarely been investigated. To address vulnerabilities that AC creates for well-being, recommendations are made to benefit adjustment including enhancing personal agency, increasing the stability of interpersonal bonds, and addressing social inequalities.
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The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-being:
an Evidence-Informed Model
Stephen Butler
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 11 August 2018 /Accepted: 13 August 2018 /
Published online: 14 September 2018
Advanced capitalism (AC) is a macro-economic and macro-cultural system that exerts pro-
found influence on individual well-being. AC has led to great prosperity since the Second
World War and has been of substantial benefit to well-being, providing levels of personal and
political freedom, as well as infrastructure, health, and social provisions unheard of throughout
most of human history. Nevertheless, growing levels of inequality within AC countries
alongside recent economic stagnation and constraints have resulted in diminished opportuni-
ties and increasing insecurity for many citizens. This paper presents an integrative, evidence-
informed model of the impact of AC on well-being. It considers the evidence in relation to this
model and the hypothesis that AC can have detrimental consequences for well-being. The
model identifies two distinct macro-cultural domains that interact to influence adjustment. The
first domain involves marked increases in family instability and employment insecurity that
characterize AC societies, creating AC-specific stressors in these areas. The second domain
involves AC-specific socialization processes that promote success, status, and self-image,
alongside the need to develop a market-driven identity. The model finds broad support for
AC-specific stressors and variable support across AC-specific socialization processes. While
there is evidence to inform each of the respective domains, interactions between domains have
rarely been investigated. To address vulnerabilities that AC creates for well-being, recommen-
dations are made to benefit adjustment including enhancing personal agency, increasing the
stability of interpersonal bonds, and addressing social inequalities.
Keywords Advanced capitalism .Well-being .Culture .Evidence-informed model
Human Arenas (2019) 2:200227
*Stephen Butler
Department of Psychology, Memorial Hall, Room 208, University of Prince Edward Island, 550
University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada
Honorary Senior Lecturer UCL, London, UK
The Author(s) 2018
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The development of culturally sensitive models of psychological adjustment is an enduring
and crucial theme in psychology (e.g., Greenfield 2009; Ratner 2012). It is surprising
therefore, that relatively little attention has been paid to the impact of capitalism as an over-
arching cultural reality in the lives of Western individuals (for exceptions see Kasser et al.
2007;Ratner2012; Seligman 1990). In this paper, I propose an evidence-informed model of
the impact of advanced capitalism (AC) on well-being and consider the degree to which the
empirical data support this model and the hypothesis that AC can have detrimental conse-
quences for well-being.
Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of
production and their operation for profit (Zimbalist and Sherman 2014). AC describes
societies where the capitalist model has been developed deeply and extensively over a
prolonged period of time. The research reviewed here involves advanced capitalist
countries from both liberal-market economies (LME; e.g., the USA, the UK) and more
coordinated market economies (CME; e.g., Germany, Denmark), a seminal distinction
made by Hall and Soskice in their Varieties of Capitalism model (Hall and Soskice
2001). Adopting a broad definition of AC is congruent with the range of cross-national
research to be reviewed and the limited empirical research studying the impact of
capitalism on mental health and well-being. Differences between countries or character-
istics of market economies will be highlighted where relevant. In practice, the varieties of
capitalism model remains confined to Western countries and the vast majority of research
reviewed here is of Western origin.
Capitalism is also a social system which exerts broad and significant influences on how
social relationships are organized and experienced (Streeck 2016). From a psychological
perspective, the culture of AC can be conceptualized as a higher-order social-contextual factor
that influences lower-order factors such as the individual and family through cultural beliefs
and values, traditions and practices, and laws (Bronfenbrenner 1979). These macro-cultural
influences cascade down, effecting transactions between theperson and their environment over
time. Bronfenbrenner (1979) designated the macro-cultural system as an overarching pattern of
ideology and organization of interconnected social systems that are common to a given society.
The macro-cultural level forms a generalized pattern that provides the context for, and shapes
the substance of, the subsystems nested within it, such as the individual, the family, work-
places, and the community.
In AC societies, the overarching pattern of ideology is a set of values based in self-
interest and interpersonal styles rooted in competition, a strong desire for financial
success, high levels of consumption, and belief in the necessity of economic growth
(Kasser et al. 2007). In the proposed model of AC and well-being, this macro-cultural
context has become associated with shifts toward greater degrees of materialism and
individualism, accompanied by increased instability of interpersonal bonds (e.g.,
Greenfield 2009; Seligman 1990) and precariousness of employment (Kalleberg 2009).
Although the influences of AC on well-being are enveloping, they are also bi-directional
rather than deterministic or causal. I conceptualize the distinct macro-cultural character-
istics of AC as enduring cultural risk factors that may increase the probability of poorer
well-being, depending on their interaction with other risk and protective factors in the
individuals ecology. Broadly speaking, it is likely that macro-cultural and individual
processes exist in a dynamic, transactional relationship and are constitutive of each other,
rather than the former casually influencing the latter in a linear, top-down manner (Heft
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 201
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The Impact of AC on Individual Well-being: an Integrative Model
The model of how AC influences individual well-being identifies two interacting domains.
The first domain describes AC-specific stressors that arise from the instability and insecurity
that often characterizes intimacy, family life, and employment. These stressors frequently
occur in the absence or limited presence of supportive extended family and community
structures, exacerbating their adverse consequences. AC specific-stressors may be cumulative
(e.g., frequent family transitions) and/or interactive (e.g., partner/family instability and em-
ployment insecurity occurring contemporaneously), increasing the probability and in some
cases the severity of maladjustment.
The psychological security and stability that family life and employment have traditionally
provided in AC societies has lessened considerably over the past 50 to 60 years. Alongside
these developments, the values and practices of consumer culture, namely AC-specific social-
ization processes, have progressively governed socialization. The individualistic and materi-
alistic orientations of AC cultures are believed to contribute to peoples difficulties forming
stable bonds in these societies (Kasser et al. 2007; Konrath et al. 2014), thereby contributing to
high levels of divorce and increasing rates of cohabitation (e.g., Cherlin 2005; Lesthaeghe
2014). In their cross-generational analyses of American twelfth graders between 1976 and
2007 (N= 355, 296), youth materialism showed significant relationships with indices of social
instability and disconnection (e.g., divorce, unemployment) both contemporaneously and
across time (Twenge and Kasser 2013).
There is limited research investigating the mechanisms by which AC-specific stressors in
the domains of intimacy, family life, and employment contribute to poorer well-being.
However, there are indications that they help to destabilize the formation of secure, close,
and trusting relationships, and thereby undermine well-being. Robust data within and across
AC nations show reduced levels of interpersonal trust and social cohesion in countries with the
highest levels of inequality (Mikucka, Sarracino, & Dubrow, 2017; Oishi et al. 2011;see
Buttrick et al. 2017 for review of the inequality literature). The increasing instability of
interpersonal bonds in AC is also illustrated by a recent meta-analysis examining changes in
self-reported attachment style from 1988 to 2011 in samples of young adults in the USA
(Konrath et al. 2014). Konrath et al. (2014) found significant decreases in secure attachment
styles accompanied by increases in insecure attachment styles, controlling for age, gender,
race, and publication status. They also found particularly consistent support for increases in
dismissing attachment styles, which they suggest may be associated with cultural factors such
as increased narcissism and individualism, as well as declining empathy or concern for others
(Konrath et al. 2011).
The second domain in the model is encapsulated by the term AC-specific socialization
processes, namely the individuals involvement in consumer culture with its attendant indi-
vidualistic and materialistic values, which emphasize extrinsic goals such as success, status,
having rather than being, and self-image. Concomitant with the cultural promotion of indi-
vidualistic and materialistic values, individuals are obliged to develop an identity that is
market-driven and embedded in a narrative of success, status, and an enhanced self-image.
In the USA, there is evidence of increased materialism and goals related to the pursuit of
money, fame, and an enhanced self-image over recent decades among large representative
samples of high school and college students (Twenge et al. 2010a; Twenge et al. 2012).
Increases in individualistic and materialistic values have also been documented over longer
historical time-frames in the USA and the UK (Greenfield 2013), with a recent meta-analysis
202 Butler
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supporting relationships between materialism and poorer emotional well-being and life satis-
faction (Dittmar et al. 2014). Furthermore, substantial cross-national data comparing individ-
ualistic vs. collectivistic nations suggest higher levels of mental health problems in areas such
as depression (Chiao and Blizinsky2010; Kessler and Ustun 2008; Way and Lieberman 2010),
suicide (Eckersley and Dear 2002; Webster Rudmin et al. 2003), and youth aggression
(Bergeron and Schneider 2005; Bergmüller 2013) in nations characterized by more individu-
alistic values. Several authors propose that generational increases in mental health problems
over the last 50 years (Kessler and Wang 2008; Sweeting et al. 2010;Twengeetal.2010b)are
partly related to cultural shifts toward individualism and materialism (Eckersley and Dear
2002; Schwartz 2000; Seligman 1990; Twenge et al. 2010a,b).
There are two primary mechanisms by which AC-specific socialization processes are
believed to influence well-being. The first is through exposure to advertising, which helps to
create feelings of insecurity and unhappiness in individuals by increasing their awareness of
discrepancies between their present state and the ideals defined by AC market-driven cultures
(Gulas and McKeage 2000; Richins 1995). By engaging in upward social comparisons,
individuals find themselves lacking in relation to unrealistic images and ideals, leading to
self-doubt, insecurities, and identity deficits thereby contributing to poorer well-being (Dittmar
2007). The effects of advertising on children and adolescents include increases in materialistic
values with consequent poorer well-being (Opree et al. 2012). Meta-analysis of the impact of
media exposure to the thin ideal on body dissatisfaction in adolescent and adult females
(Groesz et al. 2002; Grabe et al. 2008; Ferguson 2013) and longitudinal studies on childrens
food preferences, diet, and health behaviors (Hastings et al. 2003; Livingstone and Helsper
2004) all reveal significant but small to moderate effect sizes. These social comparison
processes are also operative via social media on sites such as Facebook and MySpace (de
Vries and Kühne 2015;Lee2014), where they incorporate the same market ideals around
attractiveness, success, and enhanced self-image (Manago et al. 2008). For some individuals,
engaging in social comparison may increase the likelihood of negative rather than positive
effects of social media use (de Vries and Kühne 2015;Managoetal.2008).
A second mechanism by which AC-specific socialization processes promoting individual-
ism and materialism influence well-being is through traditional socialization agents such
parents and peers (Twenge andKasser 2013). Young people report higher levels of materialism
when their parents (Goldberg et al. 2003;Kasseretal.1995) and peers (Sheldon et al. 2000)
are materialistic. They have also been shown to respond to peer pressure to become more
materialistic (Banerjee and Dittmar 2008) and compare themselves unfavorably to peers who
have valued possessions relating to social acceptance and status (Roper and Shah 2007).
Finally, AC-specific socialization processes of materialism have significant associations with
AC-specific stressors of family instability and insecurity (e.g., divorce) (Rindfleisch et al.
1997; Roberts et al. 2003; Twenge and Kasser 2013).
The AC model proposes that transactions between family instability or job insecurity and
individualistic and materialistic values and practices are bi-directional and can form a vicious
cycle. For instance, the predominance of extrinsically oriented values may help undermine the
development of stable relationships and contribute to fragmentation in the spheres of intimacy
and family life, while exacerbating the need of individuals to rely on themselves in a competitive
marketplace. Conversely, repeated experiences of instability and insecurity of interpersonal bonds
may increase the probability that individuals over-invest in materialistic and individualistic
pursuits and values to cope with growing mistrust and emotional dislocation and/or to re-invest
in reward-based and cultural-sanctioned goals that are more within their control.
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 203
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Relationships between job insecurity and AC-specific socialization processes are less
certain and are lacking in empirical research. At a broad level, the potential threat of losing
ones job threatens not only continued employment and the ability to make a living but also the
satisfaction of fundamental psychological and social needs. There is some indication that job
insecurity thwarts needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness, and hence the realization
of intrinsically oriented goals (De Witte et al. 2015). Moreover, given the centrality of
employment to relative income position and social status, job insecurity is likely to have
adverse consequences for peoples social status and self-image and hence extrinsically oriented
goals that comprise AC-specific socialization. In sum, the AC-specific stressor of job insecu-
rity is likely to promote poorer well-being by: (1) destabilizing AC-specific socialization
processes that enhance the individuals social standing and self-image; and (2) creating
uncertainty and insecurity around needs for competence, autonomy, and work-related social
relationships that are protective against the negative effects of AC-specific socialization
The model of the impact of AC on well-being provides a heuristic framework that identifies
macro-cultural factors that may pose a risk to well-being, and which may help explain
variation in outcomes (see Fig. 1). This mediational model suggests that AC societies are
associated with vulnerabilities to specific social stressors (family instability, job insecurity) and
socialization processes (individualism, materialism) that are, in turn, associated with lower
well-being. The literature is limited by the absence of experimental studies comparing
individuals from AC and non-AC countries to establish causal links between AC cultures
and predictors such as family instability or job insecurity. Nonetheless, there is substantive
theoretical and empirical data, and hence converging evidence, that substantiate these predic-
tors as characteristics of AC societies.
Finally, it is important to recognize that AC societies have brought levels of prosperity,
personal freedoms, and advances in infrastructure and social provisions previously unheard of
in human history (Ridley 2010). These developments are demonstrably associated with
positive outcomes for well-being (Diener et al. 2010; Weimann et al. 2015). However, the
evidence-informed model of AC and well-being suggests that AC societies are also challeng-
ing and stressful for many individuals and in specific ways that merit further study.
The following sections review the evidence documenting marked structural and psycho-
logical changes in relationships and families in AC cultures and the impact of these macro-
cultural changes on the well-being of children and adults. Literature on the impact of job
insecurity on well-being is then examined. Subsequently, evidence is considered suggesting
that AC-specific socialization processes involving individualism and materialism promote a
market-driven identity and may be related to poorer well-being. In reviewing studies, I adhere
to the hierarchy of research evidence that privileges meta-analyses as well as longitudinal
investigations, while considering studies of well-being at different points across the life-span.
AC-Specific Stressors: Family Instability and Child Adjustment
AC and Family Instability
Patterns of relationship formation and dissolution have been changing profoundly across AC
societies (Cherlin 2005; Perelli-Harris and Lyons-Amos 2015). The increased familial insta-
bility at the heart of many AC countries is illustrated by delayed age of first marriage and
204 Butler
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declining marriage rates, rising divorce rates, and increasing rates of cohabitation and non-
marital child-bearing (Lesthaeghe 2014 for overview of the Second Demographic Transition;
Cherlin 2016; Perelli-Harris and Lyons-Amos 2016 for empirical syntheses). A divorce rate of
about 50% in the USA, combined with an increase in unmarried births, means that more
children are raised by single parents, and about 50% of unmarried first-time mothers are
adolescents (Cherlin 2005). Moreover, 40% of children born in the USA in 2007 were born to
unwed parents and started life in fragilefamilies, more than twice the rate in 1980(18%) and
ote: LME=liberal market economies; CME=coordinated market economies
Advanced Capitalism
Youth Well-Being
AC Values
AC Specific Stressors
Family instability/insecurity
Job Insecurity
AC Specific Socialization:
Market-driven identity: Status
Success, Enhanced Self-image
Self-interest Interpersonal
Consumerism Financial
Fig. 1 Evidence-informed model: influence of advanced capitalism on well-being
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 205
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an eightfold increase from 1960 (5%) (Waldfogel et al. 2010). About 40% of all US children
spend time in a cohabiting family, and the greater instability of families begun by cohabitation
means that children are more likely to experience family disruption (Bumpass and Lu 2000;
Raley and Bumpass 2003).
In the UK, nearly 50% of children see their parents separated by their15th birthday, and over
24% of all children live in single-parent families (Centre for Social Justice 2013). Over the last
40 years the proportion of the adult population that is married has declined from about 70% to
less than half, while the percentage of lone parents has almost doubled (Murphy 2011). The rise
in cohabitation is the cultural trend that has changed most significantly, increasing from fewer
than 1 in 100 adults underthe age of 50 in the1960s to 1 in 6 today (Beaujouan and Bhrolcháin
2011). Similar demographic changes including delayed marriage, increasing rates of divorce
and cohabitation have been documented across Europe and in Canada, Australia, and New
Zealand (Kiernan 2004; Perelli-Harris and Lyons-Amos 2015;Ramsøy1994).
The net result of these significant demographic changes in AC societies is an increased
likelihood that many families will undergo repeated structural changes. The patterns of family
formation, however, are far from uniform within AC countries. Family instability seems to be
greater in more disadvantaged segments of the population and bears particular associations with
levels of education. In the USA, a longitudinal study of young adults who had reached their late
40s (Aughinbaugh et al. 2013) and an examination of marital dissolution rates from the mid-
1970s to the 1990s (Martin 2004), both show large educational gaps in divorce. Specifically,
there have been declining rates of divorce among the better educated (e.g., 4-year college degree
or more), but continuing high rates of divorce among the less educated (less than a 4-year
college degree). Furthermore, significant variation in the relationship between education levels
and risk of divorce was found across 16 European countries and the USA (Harkonen and
Dronkers 2006). Harkonen and Dronkers (2006) did not find a relationship between education
and divorce in several European countries characterized by CME economies (e.g., West
Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway), found a negative relation between education and
divorce in Austria, Lithuania, and the USA, and a positive relationship in countries such as
France, Italy, and Spain. Across countries, the de-institutionalization of marriage and uncon-
ventional family practices were associated with a negative educational divorce gradient, while
welfare state expenditure was associated with a more positive educational divorce gradient.
Considerable evidence suggests that lower education is also associated with greater non-marital
childbearing in the USA, whether the births occur to single mothers or to cohabiting couples
(Rindfuss et al. 1996; Upchurch et al. 2002;Ventura2009). Given that low levels of education in the
USA are often associated with higher levels of socio-economic disadvantage, it has been argued that
non-marital childbearing reproduces class and racial disparities in social and economic outcomes
(i.e., diverging destinies) through its association with partnership instability and multi-partnered
fertility (McLanahan 2004; McLanahan and Jacobsen 2015). Across Europe, Perelli-Harris et al.
(2010) similarly find that cohabiting women with low levels of education have a significantly greater
risk of early first births than women with medium education, while cohabiting women with high
levels of education have a significantly lower risk. They conclude that, although economic
developments in many AC countries have provided higher standards of living and opportunities
for increased consumption, the least educated and skilled have struggled to adapt given reduced job
security. As a consequence, young adults have adopted prolonged education as a principal strategy
to manage this new AC environment due to its crucial importance for employment stability and
economic success (Perelli-Harris et al. 2010) and parental investment in children and families
(Lundberg and Pollak 2013).
206 Butler
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A complementary hypothesis is that marriage has become market-driven and aligned with
extrinsic values, a status symbol confined to the privileged, characterized by economically
attractive people marrying each other (Cherlin 2016). For the less privileged, rising income
inequality and limited public funding for education in some AC economies has prevented low-
educated couples from achieving the standard of living necessary for establishing value on the
marriage market (McLanahan and Percheski 2008). Young men in AC countries who are from
the lower classes and who are less educated are more likely to experience employment
insecurity, to delay partnerships and parenthood, and to substitute cohabiting relationships
for marriage (Mills and Blossfeld 2013). For those with greater privilege, the gender-
egalitarian equilibrium of committed, domestic and work-sharing couples in long-term rela-
tionships has evolved as a specific adaptation to economic and social circumstances in AC.
Lower levels of inequality and the more gender-egalitarian roles and generous social welfare
regimes of CME provide better support for this adaptation (Esping-Andersen and Billari 2015;
Goldscheider et al. 2015). The notion of market-driven marriage accords with a study
involving 25 European countries where the education-marriage gradient was intensified by
country level inequality and driven partly by social comparisons to establish perceived market
value (Kalmijn 2013).
The Impact of Family Instability on Well-being
The growing family instability seen in AC countries has been repeatedly related to adverse
outcomes for children. In a longitudinal study examining relationships between family insta-
bility and child adjustment from kindergarten to fifth grade using growth curve models (Milan,
Pinderhughes,, and Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group 2006), family instability
trajectories predicted childrens externalizing and internalizing behavior over this period. High
levels of family instability also incrementally predicted the likelihood of meeting criteria for a
DSM-IV diagnosis during elementary school, above and beyond prediction from earlier
measures of maladjustment. Reporting on their 6-year longitudinal study of the association
between maternal relationship instability and childrens emotional and behavioral functioning
during middle childhood in a representative sample of low income families, Bachman et al.
(2011) found that a greater total number of maternal transitions predicted both emotional and
behavioral problems, with transitions in the previous 2 years having particular impact. Recent
entrances into cohabiting partnerships were problematic for children, increasing a range of
internalizing and externalizing symptoms, perhaps underscoring the stressful nature of cohab-
iting transitions. There were no indications that possible thirdvariables accounted for
relationships between family instability and child adjustment. In a pioneering longitudinal
study of 206 lower and working-class children from grade 4 experiencing multiple family
transitions (Capaldi and Patterson 1991), linear relationships were found between the number
of family transitions and poorer youth adjustment, after controlling for family income and
socio-economic status. Number of transitions was highly related to maternal antisocial
behavior and unskilled parenting practices, which in turn placed the child at risk of poor
adjustment. Fomby and Cherlin (2007) found that the number of family transitions was partly
causal in explaining behavioral problems and delinquency using a nationally representative
two-generation longitudinal survey, but only for white and not for black children.
Waldofogel and colleagues summarized numerous reports from the Fragile Families and Child
Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal data set that follows a cohort of approximately 5000
children born between 1998 and 2000 in medium to large US cities (Waldfogel et al. 2010),
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 207
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containing 3700 children born to married mothers and 1300 born to unmarried mothers. Parents
were interviewed at the time of the childs birth and approximately 1, 3, and 5 years later and
evaluated on a range of cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes. The FFCWS studies demon-
strate that children who live with single or cohabiting parents fare worse as adolescents and young
adults in their educational outcomes, risk of teen birth, attachment to school, and future employment
than do children who grow up in married-couple families. Generally speaking, relationships are less
stable and more complex in families formed by cohabiting parents: they are more likely to include
children from other partnerships, are characterized by more fragile parental relationships, are likely
to dissolve by the time their children are 3 years old, and are marked by higher rates of poverty,
unemployment, and poorer quality parenting (McLanahan 2004). It may also be that early and/or
cumulative family instability alters the template upon which children develop later social relation-
ships and competencies.
Finally, preliminary evidence identifies the importance of gene-environment interactions
when attempting to understanding family instability in AC. Waldman (2007) studied gene-
environment interactions between dopamine receptor D2 gene (DRD2) and putative family
environmental risk factors that reflected mothersmarital stability in children diagnosed with
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Three measures of marital stability, namely
age at first marriage, number of marriages or cohabiting relationships, and marital status were
associated with either the childsormothers dopamine receptor genotypes. Moreover, there
were gene-environment interactions between childrens genotypes and marital stability, and
ADHD diagnoses.
AC-Specific Stressors: Job Insecurity and Well-being
AC and Job Insecurity
Alongside the profound transformation of family life in AC countries, enormous changes in
rapidly evolving labor markets have occurred over the last three decades (Ferrie 2001). The
predominant shifts have been towardincreased job insecurity associated with globalization and
increasing competition (DSouza et al. 2003) resulting in plant closures with mass redundan-
cies; outsourcing, downsizing, and mergers to adapt to the new economic situation, which
often involve layoffs or the threat of layoffs (Gowing et al. 1998); and the increased use of
flexible employment contracts involving subcontracted and non-permanent employees
(Erlinghagen 2008;Guest2004). Job insecurity has become a significant social phenomenon
caused by fundamental changes in the economic system of AC countries, and has led to
substantial psychological research regarding its prevalence, causes, and consequences for
individual physical and mental health and well-being (De Witte 2005).
Job insecurity or the threat of unemploymentis defined by a perceived threat of job loss
and associated insecurities and anxieties (Sverke et al. 2006). Based on findings from the
European Social Survey, carried out in 2004 and 2005 in 17 European countries, Erlinghagen
351 (2008) reports that 14% of respondents did not agree with the item My job is secure,
while based on the International Social Survey Program collected in 15 OECD countries,
Anderson and Pontusson (2007) reported that about 2025% of the respondents responded
positively to the affective item Do you worry about the possibilities of losing your job?,with
very significant variation across countries (e.g., 11% in Norway, 54% in Spain). Consistent
with European data, long-term employment in the USA has become rare with increasing job
208 Butler
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opportunities being temporary or contract-based (Sparks et al. 2001). In the UK a survey of
more than 3000 workers as part of the Skills and Employment Survey (19862012) documents
that British workers are feeling less secure and more pressured at work than at any time in the
past 20 years, and that this increase in job insecurity is found among all types of employees
(Gallie et al. 2016). By contrast, Gregg and Gardner (2015) argue that there is little support for
the notion that job insecurity has increased across the UK workforce over the past two decades,
but they do suggest that a growing minority is particularly at risk (e.g., young people). Overall,
these studies suggest that job insecurity affects a small but significant part of the employed
European and US population and relatively large numbers of people in absolute figures.
Impact of Job Insecurity on Well-being
Two meta-analyses of available studies in English have found that job insecurity is associated
specifically with job dissatisfaction and more broadly with indicators of physical and mental
health (Cheng and Chan 2008; Sverke et al. 2002), with the most recent meta-analyses
including 133 studies from 1980 to 2006. These studies suggest a gradient in the relationships
between job insecurity and the diverse outcomes studied, with stronger links to reduced job
satisfaction and substantial but more limited impacts on aspects of well-being and health
outside the workplace, with the weakest links to physical health (De Witte et al. 2015).
Longitudinal studies suggest that the causal direction is from job insecurity toward lowered
psychological well-being and somatic health (Ferrie et al. 2002; Kalil et al. 2009; Virtanen
et al. 2010), and that job insecurity is more problematic for psychological adjustment than the
certainty of becoming unemployed (Dekker and Schaufeli 1995). In the Whitehall study,
involving a large longitudinal sample of UK civil servants studied across 14 years, robust
evidence linked anticipated job loss with self-reported physical health and minor psychiatric
morbidity as rated by the General Health Questionnaire (Ferrie et al. 1995), with exposure to
chronic job insecurity showing the strongest relationships with these outcomes (Ferrie et al.
2002). Similarly, in their longitudinal study of job insecurity over periods of about 3 years to
almost a decade in two large representative samples of American workers, Burgard et al.
(2009) found that persistent job insecurity was an important predictor of self-rated health, and
in one sample, depressive symptoms. These results were found after controlling for
sociodemographic and job characteristics, earlier health and mental health behaviors, and
negative reporting style. De Cuyper et al. (2012) established reciprocal cross-lagged relation-
ships between job insecurity and emotional exhaustion, with similar reciprocal relationships
found between job insecurity and lowered self-esteem over time (Kinnunen et al. 2003). These
longitudinal data suggest that negative interactions can consolidate over time, strengthening
the negative consequences of perceived job insecurity (De Witte et al. 2015).
In summary, the empirical evidence suggests that in many AC countries the growing
instability of adult intimate relationships and family life, as well as insecurity associated with
employment, can have negative consequences for well-being. There are indications that
education is a protective factor, providing individuals with social capital and interpersonal
skills that promote family stability and help them succeed in a competitive, technologically
sophisticated world. Unfortunately, no research has investigated the contemporaneous impact
of instability and/or insecurity in intimate relationships and employment on the well-being of
adults. The AC hypotheses would be that contemporaneous destabilization in both of these key
life domains would increase the probability and for some individuals the severity of malad-
justment. Preliminary studies documenting the adverse consequences of job insecurity for
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 209
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marriages and family life (Larson et al. 1994) and longitudinal data showing the deleterious
impact of work-family conflict on mental health (Hanson et al. 2014; Leineweber et al. 2013)
suggest this hypothesis warrants future research.
AC-Specific Socialization: Individualism and Well-being
The individualistic orientation at the heart of AC has been studied in research on relationships
between individualistic vs. collectivistic cultural values and mental health and well-being.
Cultural psychologists define individualistic cultures as those which encourage a conceptual-
ization of people as independent of each other and emphasize self-expression and the pursuit of
individuality over group goals, whereas collectivistic cultures characterize people as highly
interconnected to one another and favor the maintenance of social harmony over the assertion
of individuality (Hofstede et al. 2010; Triandis and Suh 2002). Relationships between indi-
vidualistic and/or collectivist value orientations and mental health and well-being in AC are
illustrated by examining cross-national studies looking at depression, suicide, and aggression
in young people. These studies use country rankings of value preferences on the individualism
vs. collectivism dimension, based on evidence that when personal values are aggregated to the
societal level they predict various behavior-related variables such as suicide rates, educational
achievement, and female-to-male income ratios (Hofstede et al. 2010).
In the field of cultural neuroscience, Chiao and Blizinsky (2010) found that a genetic risk of
depression (carrying the short (S) allele of the 5-HTTLPR) was less likely to be realized in
collectivistic compared with individualistic cultures based on a sample of 29 nations (covering
Western and Eastern Europe, South Africa, South and East Asia, and South America).
Furthermore, the prevalence of depression was significantly lower in collectivistic than in
individualistic nations despite much higher proportions of the population carrying short (S)
alleles of the 5-HTTLPR in collectivistic countries. In their review of studies examining
genetic variation, cultural processes, and mental health outcomes, Way and Lieberman
(2010) conclude that there is a relationship between the allele related to social sensitivity
and lifetime prevalence rates of depression across nations, where reduced rates of depression in
populations with a high proportion of social sensitivity alleles is due to greater collectivism.
Finally, higher rates of depression have been found in Western as opposed to Asian countries
(Kessler and Ustun 2008), and individuals of East Asian (Chang and Arkin 2002), Chinese
(Hwang and Myers 2007),andLatino(BreslauandChang2006) descent all experience lower
rates of depression in their home societies than members of these cultures when born in the
USA. These studies suggest cultural factors associated with greater familial and communal
support may help account for these differences.
Cross-national research shows positive associations between individualism and suicide
mortality (Eckersley and Dear 2002; Webster Rudmin et al. 2003). Webster Rudmin et al.
(2003) examined cultural values as predictors of suicide incidence rates across a broad age-
range and inclusive of gender for 33 nations. Individualism was a strong positive correlate of
suicide and predicted a greater preponderance of male suicides for all age groups, consistent
with previous research. Individualism was negatively correlated with suicide for young women,
suggesting that young women in individualistic societies may experience less hopelessness and
a greater sense of capability than young women in collectivistic societies. Studies of suicide at
the individual level support aggregate data. Research on samples of French, Turkish, and
Australian adolescents and young adults find that higher levels of individualism are associated
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with or predict suicidal ideation and behavior (Eskin 2013; van Leeuwen et al. 2010), with
greater support seeking in young people higher in collectivist values (Scott et al. 2004).
Turning to aggressive behavior in young people, Bergeron and Schneiders(2005) quantita-
tive review of 185 comparisons between pairs of individualistic vs. collectivistic cultures,
involving 42,517 participants aged from 4 to 18 years of age, strongly supported their hypothesis
that children in collectivistic cultures would show less aggressive behavior than children from
individualistic cultures. Bergmüller (2013) examined the relationship between dominant cultural
values and school principalsperceptions of grades 4 and 8 verbally and physically aggressive
student behavior in representative samples (total N= 428,566) from 62 countries involved in the
Trends in International Science and Mathematics Study (TISS). Cultural individualism was
significantly related to physically and verbally aggressive student behavior, even after control-
ling for school- and country-level variables previously found to predict student aggression, such
as size of the school and community, and proportion of students from disadvantaged homes.
Finally, a national context of individualism was associated with violence as rated by school
principals (N= 990) from nationally representative samples of schools in 15 countries including
diverse European and three non-European nations (Menzer and Torney-Purta 2012).
This brief review suggests that cultures characterized by individualistic compared with collec-
tivistic value orientations show greater childhood aggression and a greater preponderance of
depression and male suicide. Individualistic-oriented AC societies may be protective for some
women, fostering greater opportunities and contributing to comparatively lower rates of suicide, as
well as reducing their exposure to forms of aggression such as partner violence (Archer 2006).
AC-Specific Socialization: Materialism and Well-being
Materialism may be defined as individual differences in peoples long-term endorsement of
values, goals, and associated beliefs centered on the importance of acquiring money and
possessions to convey status (Kasser and Kanner 2004). Although materialistic people tend to
view the possession of goods as a way to achieve personal happiness (Ahuvia and Wong 2002;
Founier and Richins 1991), individuals endorsing high levels of materialistic values tend to
report feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem, and value the pursuit of extrinsic goals
related to enhancing ones image, status, and wealth (Kasser and Ryan 1993;DeciandRyan
2000). They also show lower levels of empathy (Sheldon and Kasser 1995), decreased value
attached to interpersonal relationships (Bauer et al. 2012) and family values (Burroughs and
Rindfleisch 2002), and higher levels of work-family conflict (Promislo et al. 2010).
In families, materialism is more likely to be present when parents have divorced or separated
(Rindfleisch et al. 1997; Roberts et al. 2003), where possessions are stressed as a route to
happiness (Roberts et al. 2003), and where mothers are characterized as less nurturing (Kasser
et al. 1995) and less involved (Flouri 2004). Emotional rather than financial resources seems to
mediate thelink between family disruption and materialism (Rindfleisch et al. 1997), consistent
with recent findings across diverse country contexts including the USA, Western Europe, and
South America (Baker et al. 2013). These studies suggest that increased materialism in young
people is associated with perturbations in the stability and quality of parent-child relationships,
where possessions and materialistic strivings are deployedto manage negative emotional states
and stressful family circumstances. Conversely, support and acceptance for children aged 12 to
18 years of age by parents and peers contributed to healthy self-esteem, which reduced the need
to compensate through material goods (Chaplin and John 2010).
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Dittmar et al.s(2014) recent meta-analysis examined the relationship between materialism and
well-being in cross-sectional research based on 753 effect sizes from 258 samples. The meta-
analysis strongly supported the notion that individuals high in materialistic values display poorer
well-being. Nevertheless, the reviewed studies showed significant limitations. Data were largely
correlational and questionnaire-based for both measures of materialism and well-being, which may
have inflated relationships between independent and dependent measures. In support of this
hypothesis, relationships between high materialism and lower personal well-being were reduced
when materialism was assessed via semi-structured interview rather than questionnaire. Moreover,
samples were very restricted, with the majority (60%) being school/university samples of predom-
inantly white young adults. Few samples included children, socially disadvantaged adults or
families, diverse ethnicities, or clinical participants. Thus, we do not know how materialism
functions in relation to the broader array of familial and social risk factors that are commonly
associated with poorer well-being and psychological disorder. Pertinent to the AC model, we do not
know whether materialism may moderate the relationship between significant instability and
insecurity in family life and/or employment and poorer well-being.
Kasser et al. (Kasser et al. 2014) addressed some of the limitations in cross-sectional
materialism research by examining how changes in materialistic aspirations related to changes
in well-being longitudinally via follow-up at 6 months, 2 years, and 12 years. These longitu-
dinal studies consistently demonstrate that decreases in materialism over time are related to
increases in subjective well-being, and vice-versa, in samples of adolescents and young adults.
They support experimental evidence that inducing negative feelings increases materialism
(Braun and Wicklund 1989; Chang and Arkin 2002), whereas inducing positive feelings
decrease materialism (Chaplin and John 2007). Importantly, one of these longitudinal studies
included a group of young people who were at risk of mental health difficulties, a group rarely
studied in materialism research.
AC-Specific Socialization: Development of a Market-Driven Identity
Social identities developed in AC cultures are hybrid and complex, with the media playing a
crucial role in their construction. The development of identity and practices of consumption
come together in market-driven and media-based AC cultures where commodities take on a
range of cultural meanings, associations, and illusions, becoming both a contributor and
reflection of our individual selves (Featherstone 1991). Advertising stimulates desire and
accesses identity-related processes by providing consumers with images and symbolic associ-
ations that convey market-driven ideologies pertaining to lifestyle, status, happiness, and well-
being (Arnould and Thompson 2005). Moreover, recent evolutionary psychology approaches
to marketing and consumer behavior suggest that the development of market-driven identities
in AC societies are influenced by powerful evolutionary motives such attracting and keeping
mates, asserting status, and caring for a family (Durante and Griskevicius 2016; Miller 2009).
In this respect, it is noteworthy that evolutionary motives and marketing in AC societies may
not necessarily act in concert to promote well-being. For example, the small but significant
effect sizes between advertising and unhealthy food consumption in children reported may be
aided by an inherited preference for fatty and sweet foods which provided our ancestors with
much-needed calories in a food-scarce environment (Durante and Griskevicius 2016). More-
over, images of wealth and beauty marshaled forth by advertisers to stimulate evolutionary-
based motives to attract and keep mates may undermine the importance of using more adaptive
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traits in decision-making about potential partners, such as intelligence and kindness that were
accentuated throughout evolution (Miller 2009).
The AC model proposes that the destabilization of family life and employment in AC
cultures has been accompanied by the ascendancy of AC-specific socialization processes
characterized by individualistic and materialistic values. Dittmar (2007) argues that the good
lifeand the body perfectare two fundamental ideals and myths of consumer culture that
embody individualistic and materialistic values, and that individuals may become vulnerable
to the adverse effects of AC cultures when they have become internalized (Dittmar 2007).
These cultural values have been transmitted historically through advertising and the entertain-
ment and fashion industries to stimulate consumption and are now also being transmitted
through social exchanges using cultural technologies such as social media. That is, adolescents
and adults are now reproducing these ideals online as valued components of their (idealized)
selves (Pempek et al. 2009). With the dominance of social media, cultural values centered on
attractiveness, success, and status, which benefit from visual display and involve self-
presentation and impression management, have come to occupy a critical position in the
progressive objectification of identity in AC cultures. This objectification of identity is
believed to support and contribute to the fundamental position social comparison processes
occupy in AC societies.
The Development of a Market-Driven Identity: Socialization of Children as Consumers
Children have come into their own as consumers. They are a rapidly growing primary market
segment where increasingly sophisticated advertising and media techniques, and considerable
investment and effort are expended to target them successfully (Kunkel et al. 2004;Moore
2004). In the USA, recent estimates are that advertisers spent more than $1.3 trillion targeting
the youth market via traditional media because of its strong contribution to the consumer
economy (Horovitz 2011).
The signifying quality and value of commodities as identity-enhancing is captured by
the concept of consumer brand identification (CBI; Stokburger-Sauer et al. 2012). CBI
incorporates the notion that brands, as carriers of cultural and social meaning, can
embody, inform, and communicate desirable consumer identities (Berger and Heath
2007; Lam et al. 2010). The child-brand relationship is a bond between a child and a
brand characterized by a unique history of interactions that is intended to serve devel-
opmental and social-emotional goals in the childslife(Ji2008). Children aged 3 to
5 years already have an emerging recognition of brands (McAlister and Cornwell 2009)
and brand imagery is clearly established in 7-to-10-year olds (John 1999). The sophis-
tication of childrens self-brand connections develops between middle childhood and
early adolescence (Chaplin and John 2005; Roper and La Niece 2009); by late childhood,
they are related to social status, prestige, and group affiliation (Achenreiner and John
2003), and by early adolescence can become perceived by young people as keys to their
identities and social status (Lindstrom 2004). Childrens brand relationships follow a
typical developmental progression, with the formation of symbolic meanings starting
within the family (Ji 2008;John1999) and expanding in number and complexity through
interactions with socialization agents such as peers and the media (Rodhain and Aurier
2016). Peers are particularly important for the meanings and social status associated with
highly visible products such as clothing, games, and food consumed in a social context
(Chaplin and Lowrey 2010; Lachance et al. 2003; Roper and La Niece 2009).
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 213
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Studies of young people are consistent with adult research documenting relationships
between high levels of consumption and materialism and consumption motivated by feelings
of insecurity, low self-esteem, and desire for social status. In a self-report questionnaire-based
study of 558 adolescents aged 12 to 19 from secondary schools in Brazil, materialistic
orientation was the major driver in developing positive attitudes toward luxury brands, where
young people who endorsed more underdeveloped self-beliefs showed a stronger tendency to
want to display consumption behavior and impress others (Gil et al. 2012). Children from less-
affluent UK families endeavor to conceal their relative poverty by buying expensive and high
status brands (Bailey 2011), while children report feeling pressure to wear trainers also
possessed by their more affluent peers, partly to fit in and partly to avoid teasing due to
wearing unbranded clothes or coming from a poor home (Elliott and Leonard 2004;Roperand
Shah 2007). From an evolutionary perspective, several adult studies indicate that conspicuous
consumption involves costly signalingto enhance personal status and prestige through self-
presentation to attract and retain romantic partners (Wang and Griskevicius 2013). Thus, the
studies of children and adolescents cited above could also reflect early manifestations of
evolutionary drives to assert status and to promote affiliation through consumption.
These empirical studies suggest that the socialization of children as consumers begins in
early childhood and occurs within the contexts of parenting practices, family and peer
relationships, and larger cultural contexts such as media culture. There are indications that
childrens consumption of prestige brands is motivated by feelings of insecurity and poor self-
image and possessing branded goods in key areas such as trainers and clothing communicates
valued messages about happiness and social status to peers. These material goods act as
embryonic indicators of the good life that accentuate the development of extrinsically-oriented
motivation through social exchange. Consistent with this observation, research in samples of
young people aged 8 to 15 years who were extrinsically motivated to achieve cultural ideals of
the good life and the body perfect predicted their internalization, which negatively predicted
well-being (Easterbrook et al. 2014). Recent longitudinal research supports associations
between advertising and lower emotional well-being in children indirectly through material-
istic values (Opree et al. 2012),while a study of 557 children aged 9 to 13 in the UK found that
children who spend greater time in front of the television and computer report more materi-
alistic values, and those children higher in materialism report lower self-esteem (Nairn et al.
2007). The above studies provide provisional support for the proposition that cultural values
interact with cultural technologies, leading to poorer well-being in vulnerable individuals.
Market-Driven Identity: Impact of Media Exposure on Identity
and Well-being
The most empirically documented illustration of the interaction between cultural ideals and
media exposure and its influence on well-being is in the area of body dissatisfaction and eating
disorders. Striegel-Moore and Bulik (2007) summarize the key components of socio-cultural
models of eating disorders supported by both longitudinal and experimental research: AC
cultures propagate a female beauty ideal of extreme thinness and objectification of the female
body as specific risk factors communicated pervasively though advertising and the entertain-
ment and fashion industries, where images of thin female body types are overrepresented (e.g.,
Fouts and Burggraf 2000; Greenberg et al. 2003). With repeated exposure to media ideals,
viewers begin to accept media portrayals of the thin ideal as typical and as representations of
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reality. Some women internalize this ideal, experiencing a discrepancy between their own
bodies and idealized images of the Body Perfectthat leads to body dissatisfaction and
disordered eating (e.g., Lawler and Nixon 2011;Stice2002). Moreover, it could be added that
the strength of food advertising for mostly unhealthy food products, make it extremely difficult
to eat healthily, exacerbated conflict between ideal and reality leading to psychological
symptoms. Body dissatisfaction appears to have become commonplace among American girls
and young women, developing in girls as young as 7 years old (Dohnt and Tiggemann 2006;
Grabe et al. 2008). In addition to being one of the most potent risk factors for eating disorders,
prospective studies identify that body dissatisfaction is a significant predictor of low self-
esteem, depression, and obesity in females (Grabe et al. 2007; Johnson and Wardle 2005;
Neumark-Sztainer et al. 2006;Paxtonetal.2006; Tiggemann 2005).
Three meta-analyses in the area of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders support the
hypothesis that media exposure to unrealistic cultural ideals concerning physical appearance
and attractiveness can have an adverse impact on well-being (Groesz et al. 2002; Grabe et al.
2008;Ferguson2013), albeit with small to modest effects. Furthermore, the most recent and
comprehensive meta-analyses, including 204 studies, concluded that there were minimal effects
for most females, with much greater effects for women with high pre-existing body dissatis-
faction (r= 0.26) than for women with low preexisting body dissatisfaction (r= 0.07). Ferguson
(2013) suggests a diathesis-stress model, where some females will be more susceptible to media
influences and these influences will interact with and exacerbate pre-existing risk factors.
Studying university student populations, Ashikali and Dittmar (2012) found that priming
materialism through experimental manipulation, namely exposure to advertisements of expen-
sive, luxury goods, heightened the centrality of appearance to womens views of themselves,
and contributed to the activation of body-related self-discrepancies, especially for women high
in self-reported materialism. These results are consistent with data from children and adoles-
cents linking the two ideals of material success and physical attractiveness together as AC
values that contribute to poorer well-being (Easterbrook et al. 2014). Similarly, two studies
examining materialism and the internalization of body-perfect ideals in Icelandic students of
both genders aged 18 to 21 found that a materialist value orientation was strongly related to the
internalization of body-perfect ideals and also predicted body dissatisfaction (Guðnadóttir and
Garðarsdóttir 2014). It is likely that values associated with physical attractiveness and material
success are mutually reinforcing components of identity in AC cultures that can have
significant effects on our psychological well-being. As noted throughout this paper, social
comparison processes are an important driver of extrinsic values and market-driven identity. In
their meta-analysis of data from 156 studies, Myers and Crowther (2009) found that social
comparison was related to high levels of body dissatisfaction, while social comparison
processes have been shown to predict materialistic values over and above variables including
SES, emotional uncertainty and self-esteem (Kim et al. 2017).
Market-Driven Identity: Impact of Social Media Use on Identity
and Well-being
The AC model predicts that internet use in the context of unstable and insecure interpersonal
relationships, and/or where online communication is aligned with individualistic and materialistic
socialization processes, is more likely to lead to detrimental consequences for identity and well-
being. There is some support for these propositions. Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 215
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converge in discriminating positive effects of internet use from negative effects of internet use, based
on whether communication complements existing close relationships or occurs with strangers,
(Bessière et al. 2008; Valkenburg and Peter 2007). These studies suggest that positive outcomes
with adolescents and young adults are more likely to occur when their internet use is embedded in
and extends close family and peer relationships, a conclusion consistent with a recent meta-analysis
of 58 studies examining social media use and social capital across the age range (Liu et al. 2016). At
the same time, social networking sites may also benefit some young adults by facilitating informa-
tion exchanges with larger networks of more distant, weak relationships, particularly for individuals
with low self-esteem (Ellison et al. 2007), and when online interactions compensate for low levels of
social resources (Bessière et al. 2008).
The extrinsic goal focus of AC cultures around attractiveness, status, and success are
integral components of social media exchanges. The visual nature of these cultural technolo-
gies and importance of an audience facilitates progressive idealization and objectification of
identity (Pempek et al. 2009), imbued with individualistic and materialistic values. In a pre-
adolescent sample, fame was identified as the top cultural value, actively cultivated through
social media use, which provided young people with an audience to respond to and shape their
desire for recognition (Uhls and Greenfield 2012). In line with desires for social recognition,
popularity, and fame, people on social networking sites present themselves positively (Dorethy
et al. 2014), disseminating images of them looking their best (Manago et al. 2008)and
engaging in good times with friends (Zhao et al. 2008). Moreover, individuals high in social
comparison tend to engage in greater social media use and to experience negative psycholog-
ical outcomes as a result (Vogel et al. 2015). In addition to fostering ideals associated with the
popularity and success, the increased pressure for female sexual objectification has also been
documented on social media (Manago et al. 2008).
While social media has very rapidly been permeated with AC socialization process-
es, it also allows for the exploration and development of possible selves (Manago et al.
2008). For example, Internet support is highly valued by LGBT youth who struggle to
be accepted by their parents and immediate peers (DeHaan et al. 2013). It is also
prudent to underline that social media use can have both beneficial and adverse
consequences on well-being. A meta-analysis of 40 studies across the lifespan indicated
a small detrimental effect of internet use on psychological well-being (Huang 2010),
while a recent systematic narrative review concluded that the evidence was contradic-
tory, with a marked absence of robust causal research regarding the impact of social
media on well-being (Best et al. 2014).
In one of the few studies that examines the interaction of AC-specific stressors and AC-
specific socialization processes, Baumgartner et al. (2012) studied the development of online
and offline sexual risk behaviors from early to late adolescence. They found that the minority
of adolescents who demonstrated high sexual risk online behaviors consisted of poorly-
educated, high sensation-seeking adolescents from less cohesive families who spent more
time communicating online. The association of risky online behavior with less family cohesion
in the context of individual risk factors is consistent with the AC model. Greater research
examining Internet use and identity and well-being, looking more carefully and causally at the
ecology of the individual and at interactions between AC-specific stressors and AC-specific
socialization processes, is needed.
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This article presented an evidence-informed, integrative model of the impact of AC on well-
being. The premise of this review was that AC is both an economic and macro-cultural system
that exerts a profound influence on mental health and well-being and deserves greater
examination and prominence in models of psychological adjustment.
The AC model identifies two distinct macro-cultural domains that interact to influence
mental health and well-being. The first involves marked increases in family instability and
employment insecurity that characterize AC economies, creating AC-specific stressors in these
areas. The empirical literature suggests that culturally influenced instability and insecurity in
these key life domains, interacting with concomitant deterioration in supportive familial and
community structures, create serious challenges for children and adults. The fluidity with
which attachments are formed and broken in AC cultures threatens the development of stable
and satisfying interpersonal bonds and the trust that they are founded upon. Moreover, the
failure to foster stable, secure and nurturing relationships is likely to endanger the life chances
of children and perpetuate economic disadvantage. Growing job insecurity has compromised a
growing proportion of the populations ability to participate economically in cultures where
identity is based on material success, while undermining an important foundation for devel-
oping identities and life pursuits. Research suggests that relationships between family and
employment instability and insecurity is borne to a greater degree by those who are poorer and
less educated, highlighting education as a protective factor for managing AC-specific stressors.
Moreover, job insecurity may be affecting younger adults to a greater degree, particularly
young males, again creating vulnerabilities for future transmission of social and economic
disadvantage. There are indications that country-level protective factors aid individuals,
particularly those who are exposed to greater social and economic strain, in the form of
well-developed welfare, health and educational provisions seen in CME.
The second domain of the model encapsulates the ascendancy of AC-specific socialization
processes that promote individualistic and materialistic values. On the one hand, shifts toward
individualistic values emphasizing self-fulfillment in AC countries since the 1970s, have
contributed to increased societal tolerance and diversity (Kivivuori 2014) while emphasizing
personal and political freedoms that are positively related to well-being (Johnson and Krueger
2006). There are indications that womens well-being has accrued benefits from AC, indicated
by lower rates of suicide compared with males and by reducing their exposure to aggression
such as partner violence.
At the same time, the ascendancy of individualistic values has been linked to significant
demographic changes in AC countries toward more varied and unstable family formations
(e.g., Harkonen and Dronkers 2006; Inglehart and Welzel 2005;Lesthaeghe2014),
undermining the development lifelong of relationships and the stability of bonds across the
generations (Greenfield 2009). This paper argues that individualistic values in AC cultures
have evolved toward a self-regarding individualism that emphasizes individual success, status
and enhanced self-image. The adoption of more extrinsically oriented values often occurs at
the expense of developing warm and stable interpersonal bonds and constitutes a risk to well-
being. This paper provides evidence that children are socialized into this culturally sanctioned
set of values, which are assimilated as part of the development of individual identity within AC
market-driven cultures.
Social comparison processes are central to the development of market-driven identities in
AC societies. They form an integral part of our self-evaluations and influence the value that we
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 217
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place on our relationships with others. Social comparison processes are central to studies
looking at within country comparisons of national prosperity and subjective well-being
(Weimann et al. 2015), which may be intensified in more unequal societies (Buttrick et al.
2017). They also permeate communicative technologies such as advertising and social media
and are associated with negative psychological outcomes related to both. Finally, social
comparison processes are operative in the marriage market and in the development of
materialism and some mental health problems.
Notwithstanding these conclusions regarding AC-specific socialization processes, the data is
variable when assessing support for their influence on well-being. Substantial cross-sectional
research and a small but convincing group of experimental and longitudinal studies support the
deleterious impact of high levels of materialism on individual well-being. However, material-
ism research is primarily confined to community samples of predominantly white, well-
educated adults, limiting our knowledge of how materialism may function in the context of
more serious maladjustment and the array of risk and protective factors that contribute to well-
being. The impact of individualism on mental health and well-being is uncertain and compli-
cated. As a construct, greater precision and differentiation is needed between forms of individ-
ualism that may promote or hinder well-being in AC societies. As with materialism, further
study of how individualistic values function in the context of other risk andprotective factors in
the individuals ecology is needed. Finally, a particular limitation of this field of cultural
research is that national rankings establish cultures as individualistic compared with collectiv-
istic, while different informants and reporting methods are used to measure mental health and
well-being in young people, leading to varying effects (Bergeron and Schneider 2005).
A small but fast-growing body of research in evolutionary psychology, as well as gene-
environment studies, implicate genetic contributions to individuals susceptibility to AC-
specific stressors. There may be genetic contributions to family instability and interactions found
in the literature, and complex developments detailed here between socio-economic status,
education and child-rearing may involve evolutionary considerations (Griskevicius et al. 2011).
Moreover, research studying evolutionary motives such as status-seeking and mate-seeking in the
context of consumption suggests they play an important part in the current predominance of AC-
specific socialization processes. In fact, evolutionary studies examining consumption and status-
seeking suggest that AC consumer societies may sometimes harness and shape evolutionary
motives in ways that may be counter-productive and that undermine well-being (Miller 2009).
While the evidence-informed model identifies vulnerabilities in AC societies that may
contribute to poorer well-being, it is sensible to draw on the empirical literature to make
recommendations to address these vulnerabilities and to enhance the benefits of AC societies.
To promote family stability, the broad brushstrokes of encouraging women to delay fertility
and to become economically independent, while improving the economic prospects of young
men with lower levels of education, have previously been identified as priorities (McLanahan
2004). Reducing inequality and improving health, mental health and educational provisions
would also promote greater family stability, including greater provision of parental leave
benefits (Myrskyla and Margolis 2013). From a mental health perspective, the importance of
parenting skills education (Kaveh et al. 2014) and early intervention to promote family
stability and youth outcomes is well-established (Shonkoff and Meisels 2000). Relatedly, there
is a need to refine evidence-based interventions to enhance their effectiveness with disadvan-
taged families. The provision of education and support through community networks to
promote the benefits of long-term stable relationships would also help young people manage
this challenge in AC societies (e.g., Family Stability Network 2018;
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Several initiatives have been undertaken to help young people deal with possible adverse
consequences of AC-specific socialization processes. The impact of advertising and commer-
cialism on children has been hotly debated, with reviews carried out by governments (e.g.,
Bailey 2011, UK report) and professional associations (e.g., Wilcox et al. 2004,American
Psychological Association (APA). Some investigators have suggested a complete ban on
advertising to children due to its negative effects, associations with materialism, and the
limited cognitive capacities of younger children to understand the purpose of advertising
(Kasser and Linn 2016). Bans on advertising to children have occurred in AC economies
such as Norway and Quebec and will be debated in the European Parliament in 2018. The
approach advocated here is to deploy education, and parental and community support to
enhance young peoples agency and confidence in facing the challenges of a commercialized
world. This includes using research and psychological expertise to inform government policy
as well as corporate and school initiatives to minimize commercial practices that undermine
childrens emotional health (Wilcox et al. 2014). The promotion of safe and positive uses of
social media to facilitate young peoplesgrowthisalsorelevanthere(Byron,2008).
There is also a broad need in AC societies to promote a balance between intrinsic values
and extrinsic values. For instance, the family stability network aims to promote attitudes,
behaviors, and skills that equip young people to build healthy, lasting relationships
( Psychologists can inform these types of initiatives, mindful of relevant
research to help engage young people about the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic value
orientations, respectively. The AC model would suggest that interventions for young people
could usefully combine knowledge about intrinsic/extrinsic value orientations, commerciali-
zation, and social media use into one coherent framework.
In summary, the proposed evidence-informed model of the impact of AC finds broad
support in the domain of AC-specific stressors on mental and health and well-being, and
variable support across AC-specific socialization processes, with a particular need for further
research to more precisely define these socialization processes, measure them rigorously, and
study them within the larger array of factors that influence mental health. Moreover, while
there is evidence to inform each of the separate domains of the model connecting AC and
mental health and well-being, the interactions between domains have barely been investigated.
Additionally, while the model seems to be generally supported across LME and CME, the
preponderance of studies reviewed here are from LME. From a macro-cultural perspective,
future research comparing well-being outcomes between LME and CME would be enlight-
ening. This is particularly important in order to understand heterogeneity within AC cultures,
and to help address the absence of comparisons between AC and non-AC countries. Given the
substantial amount of cross-national research reviewed, it will also be crucial to include
individual-level variables in the design of macro-cultural research, both to increase of under-
standing of individual adaptation in relation to the macro-cultural context, and to guard against
interpreting data in such a manner that supports the ecological fallacy. Finally, this review is
written to advance and stimulate scientific interest in the impact of a broad macro-cultural
construct defined as advanced capitalism, and it is hoped that scientific evidence will continue
to be brought to the debate regarding interactions between the individual and the cultural
context that surrounds them.
Acknowledgements I would like to thank Emeritus Professors Chris Barker and Nancy Pistrang, and Drs. Viv
Huddy, Peter Scragg and TIm Cadman for their comments on drafts and encouragement throughout.
The Impact of Advanced Capitalism on Well-Being 219
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Compliance with Ethical Standards The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and repro-
duction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a
link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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... The current paper proposes that, in AC societies, macro-cultural influences in the form of extrinsic values promoting physical attractiveness, wealth and material success, high achievements, social status and an enhanced selfimage, exert significant effect on the development of young people's identities. Concomitant with the cultural promotion of extrinsic values, young people are increasingly obliged to develop an identity that is market-driven and embedded in self-narratives of success, status, and enhanced self-image (Butler, 2018). ...
... Researchers in areas such as materialism (Kasser, 2002), young people's adjustment to high achieving schools (HAS; Luthar and Kumar, 2018), and self-determination theory (SDT; Deci and Ryan, 2012;Ryan et al., 2016) have all called attention to the extrinsic nature of AC and the corresponding challenges and mental health risks faced by young people. The challenges faced by young people of balancing extrinsic and intrinsic values in their emerging identities is consequential: when individuals show disproportionate extrinsic relative to intrinsic values in their overall value structure, there is increased risk for personal maladjustment and mental health problems (Kasser, 2002;Dittmar et al., 2014;Butler, 2018;Luthar and Kumar, 2018;Curran and Hill, 2019;Van Den Broeck et al., 2019). Therefore, it is imperative to promote healthy ecologies that will allow young people to cultivate a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic values while responding to AC market-driven pressures on their identify formation. ...
... It is within this particular stage-salient ecology that young people signal about themselves [e.g., as (sexually) attractive, high-achieving, wealthy or materially successful] to communicate about their status and success. This section draws on primarily empirical studies that demonstrate the status and identity enhancing functions of consumer displays (Elliott and Leonard, 2004;Roper and Shah, 2007;Dittmar and Bond, 2010;Gil et al., 2012;Furchheim et al., 2013;Shrum et al., 2013Shrum et al., , 2014Wang and Griskevicius, 2013;Durante and Griskevicius, 2016;Butler, 2018) and social media exchanges (Donath, 2002(Donath, , 2007Manago et al., 2008;Subrahmanyam et al., 2008;Zhao et al., 2008;Young, 2009;Dorethy et al., 2014;Fardouly and Vartanian, 2016;Liu et al., 2016;Nesi et al., 2018;Rai et al., 2018;Pangrazio, 2019). ...
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With the transition toward densely populated and urbanized market-based cultures over the past 200 years, young people’s development has been conditioned by the ascendancy of highly competitive skills-based labor markets that demand new forms of embodied capital (e.g., education) for young people to succeed. Life-history analysis reveals parental shifts toward greater investment in fewer children so parents can invest more in their children’s embodied capital for them to compete successfully. Concomitantly, the evolution of market-based capitalism has been associated with the rise of extrinsic values such as individualism, materialism and status-seeking, which have intensified over the last 40–50 years in consumer economies. The dominance of extrinsic values is consequential: when young people show disproportionate extrinsic relative to intrinsic values there is increased risk for mental health problems and poorer well-being. This paper hypothesizes that, concomitant with the macro-cultural promotion of extrinsic values, young people in advanced capitalism (AC) are obliged to develop an identity that is market-driven and embedded in self-narratives of success, status, and enhanced self-image. The prominence of extrinsic values in AC are synergistic with neuro-maturational and stage-salient developments of adolescence and embodied in prominent market-driven criterion such as physical attractiveness, displays of wealth and material success, and high (educational and extra-curricular) achievements. Cultural transmission of market-driven criterion is facilitated by evolutionary tendencies in young people to learn from older, successful and prestigious individuals ( prestige bias ) and to copy their peers. The paper concludes with an integrated socio-ecological evolutionary account of market-driven identities in young people, while highlighting methodological challenges that arise when attempting to bridge macro-cultural and individual development.
... Since the Second World War, capitalism has led to great prosperity, especially capitalist democracies that experienced an economic revival and a commercial boom (Brayshay, 2009) and in a similar way also ( Sheppard, 2020). By providing unprecedented levels of personal freedom, higher standards of living, as well as infrastructures, health, security and social provisions, capitalism is considered as a substantial outcome to well-being (Butler, 2019). Also, the evolution of Western economies and societies since the 1900s provided unparalleled technological advancements and continuous innovation ever since (Andrews and Duff, 2020;Brayshay, 2009). ...
... Consumerism has significantly increased standards of living, in particular life comfort. At the social level, consumerism allowed people access to new ranges of products (i.e. car ownership, house purchase, international travel) and in general, the purchase of an endless array of consumer goods and (Brayshay, 2009;Butler, 2019). At the economic level, mass production and consumerism followed the burgeoning of capitalism (Brayshay, 2009). ...
... Fourth, the role of social and cultural issues in the context of a capitalist society and consumerism. Capitalism as a social system has exerted large and significant influences on the way social relationships are organised and experienced (Butler, 2019). The culture of capitalism can be conceptualised as a high order social contextual factor that influences lower-order factors such as the individual and family (i.e. ...
Managing environmental sustainability has become a critical challenge and an essential agenda for academics and corporations alike. This study conducted evidence-based research to explore whether it is possible to maintain a balance between environmentalism and consumerism in a capitalist society. A triangulated approach is followed by combining systematic literature review (SLR) and text mining for cross-validation, thus, limiting subjective bias. The findings suggest that, although, it is possible to achieve a balance in the long run but this necessitate enormous amount of efforts and resources due to the complexity and paradoxical nature of environmentalism and consumerism coupled with the current way of capitalist societies' life. Building on the findings and the Operations Management Input-Transformation-Output model, a research framework is proposed. The proposed framework suggests that to keep a balance between environmentalism and consumerism in a capitalist society, a progressive and transformational change could be instrumental for a viable solution. Finally, building on current gaps in the research domain, six future research directions are proposed to carry forward the notion of environmentalism and consumerism in a capitalist society.
... A recent 2019 study by Butler further illuminated this phenomenon, showing how an ingrained sense of capitalistic values, such as self-interest, interpersonal competition, consumerism, and financial success leads to advanced capitalism-specific socialization in people living under this system. Features of this socialization include hyper-individualism, materialism, and a market-driven identity highly focused on status, success, and self-image (Butler 2019). ...
... Overattachment to capitalistic values and materialism can lead to negative impacts on mental health and well-being, especially when a person attributes meaning and status to their life on the basis of the money and possessions they can acquire (Butler 2019). The negative impact on well-being is magnified in frail individuals who cannot fully participate in a capitalist society due to diminished capacity. ...
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In this essay, we appeal to conceptual and empirical research to establish that autonomy and meaningfulness, when understood concretely and realistically, remain possible for frail and dependent elders. Contrary to ageist cultural attitudes, relationships render frailty and dependence compatible with the exercise of autonomous agency and with a life of meaning. This conclusion is important not only for the goal of supporting frail elders but also for developing a realistic understanding of the way relationships and spirituality are required for autonomy and meaning in the life of any human person, regardless of what state of dependence or independence they may be in. Each of us develops and continues to exist in radical dependence on others. Seeing the way autonomy and meaning manifest in the context of frailty and dependence thus helps us better appreciate what these crucial aspects of being human mean for all of us. In other words, we can learn important lessons about autonomy, meaningfulness, and relationship from the experience of our elders, and in particular from those who experience significant frailty and dependence.
... People who are materialistic, regard money as a means of achieving external goals, which they treat as sources of personal fulfillment. It has been shown that this mindset is harmful to one's mental health and leads to dissatisfaction and low self-esteem (Butler, 2019). ...
Full-text available
The main goal of financial education is to raise financial literacy. Whereas the lack of financial literacy contributes to the situation when the society has no sense of financial security. This study focuses on the perception of financial education by young people. The upper secondary school students were inquired if they believe that it is important to learn more about money. According to the findings, the level of students’ awareness should be increased and is higher when they participate in a financial education extracurricular project. The example of such initiative is the ELiT program, which was examined in this paper. To improve this issue, it can be suggested to increase the public awareness of the importance of financial education. People who are aware of that may become more willing to attend, as well as create or maintain financial education projects for youth.
... Innovations in recreational technology consumption even seem to account for around a third of the surprising decline in youth participation in the labour market during that period (Aguiar et al., 2017). 19 Indeed, from the late 1970s to the mid-2010s, US workers reported a declining trend in the perception of job security and job tenure (Hollister and Smith, 2014;Fullerton and Wallace, 2007), and psychological studies document that such economic insecurity is a stressor for overall well-being (Butler, 2019), and that the frequent reaction to insecurity is to pursue more ambitious financial goals (Sheldon and Kasser, 2008). 20 If individuals draw utility from relative consumption alone, intertemporal maximisation can achieve constant utility, while generating positive economic growth (Hof and Prettner, 2019). ...
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Fashion, style, and taste are essential facets of identity. Business conglomerates have evolved to capitalize on this connection in the name of profitable marketing and merchandising opportunities; thus, influencing consumer practices. Hereby, the psychological well-being of business proponents and consumers are influenced by consumer behaviors. Despite this vulnerable connection, there seems to be much inaccuracy perpetuated by the ignorant aspects of consumer culture. As a result, these essential facets seem often erroneously implicated in the industries of art craft and business. Such erroneous implication seems to enable the perpetuation of an ignorant, undisciplined character through purchase behavior. It is possible, however, that with an accurately informed society, willing to sacrifice pernicious profited competition to support an unadulterated economic market, might have the potential to manifest an aesthetically pleasing structure that comprehensively permeates business architecture and its social strata, thus imbuing discipline and intelligence within market and consumer behavior. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
In the context of rising inequality and eroding safety nets for marginalized communities, research is needed to demonstrate the ways in which settings can facilitate community, agency, and capabilities for low‐income women. The purpose of this study is to examine if and how an organizational setting designed to support homeless, low‐income, and other marginalized women can facilitate empowering changes and increased wellbeing among the women who participate. A thematic analysis of interviews conducted with 22 participants who attend a women's day center identified three ways in which the organizational setting impacted women's lived experiences: (a) increasing a sense of agency through acceptance, active and participatory roles, and ownership over the physical environment, (b) promoting a sense of community through rituals of care and attentiveness, alleviated social isolation, and mutual relationships, and (c) improving life circumstances by offering a safe environment, access to basic resources such as housing, and support for health and wellbeing. Findings highlight the setting features and psychosocial processes that foster flourishing and resist patterns of exclusion and devaluation imposed on marginalized women by dominant neoliberal values, institutions, and policies. The study examines how organization facilitates empowering change and wellbeing among marginalized women. Findings document increased sense of agency, sense of community, and improved life circumstances. The setting operates to resist neoliberal values and instead promotes community flourishing. The study examines how organization facilitates empowering change and wellbeing among marginalized women. Findings document increased sense of agency, sense of community, and improved life circumstances. The setting operates to resist neoliberal values and instead promotes community flourishing.
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School Counselling in an Asian Cultural Context focuses on the ways in which cultural setting influences the practice of school counseling, its effectiveness, and the experience of young people as they engage in counseling in schools. The mental health of young people is increasingly a cause for concern, particularly in Asia’s high-pressured league-topping education systems, and the wellbeing of students is becoming more a part of the wider remit of schools. Mark Harrison presents a broad overview of the development and current practice of school counseling in Hong Kong in both local and international schools and examines this in relation to school counseling in US and UK settings as well as the wider Asia-Pacific region. The book brings together two foci: the practice of school counseling in the Asian cultural context of Hong Kong, and the effectiveness and experience of school counseling from the perspective of young people and counselors. The diversity of schools in Hong Kong makes it a microcosm of trends and practices in school counseling globally and, as such, offers insights which will be of interest to students in training; school counselors, administrators and policy makers in the Asia-Pacific region and further afield.
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Income inequality is on the rise across the globe--an increasingly small portion of individuals control an increasingly large portion of wealth. Importantly, this inequality is associated with lower levels of happiness for citizens. In this paper, we review evidence regarding the psychological nature of this relationship. We examine central mechanisms that explain the link between income inequality and subjective well-being, including anxiety from status competition, mistrust, and hopes and fears about the future. We stress that perceptions of inequality matter as much as objective measures for well-being. Finally, we suggest some potential areas for future research regarding inequality and happiness and advise that this body of work be considered when developing and evaluating relevant policies.
Full-text available
Across five studies, we found consistent evidence for the idea that personal relative deprivation (PRD), which refers to resentment stemming from the belief that one is deprived of deserved outcomes compared to others, uniquely contributes to materialism. In Study 1, self-reports of PRD positively predicted materialistic values over and above socioeconomic status, personal power, self-esteem, and emotional uncertainty. The experience of PRD starts with social comparison, and Studies 2 and 3 found that PRD mediated the positive relation between a tendency to make social comparisons of abilities and materialism. In Study 4, participants who learned that they had less (vs. similar) discretionary income than people like them reported a stronger desire for more money relative to donating more to charity. In Study 5, during a windfall-spending task, participants higher in PRD spent more on things they wanted relative to other spending categories (e.g., paying off debts).
Applying the new economics of organization and relational theories of the firm to the problem of understanding cross‐national variation in the political economy, this volume elaborates a new understanding of the institutional differences that characterize the ‘varieties of capitalism’ found among the developed economies. Building on a distinction between ‘liberal market economies’ and ‘coordinated market economies’, it explores the impact of these variations on economic performance and many spheres of policy‐making, including macroeconomic policy, social policy, vocational training, legal decision‐making, and international economic negotiations. The volume examines the institutional complementarities across spheres of the political economy, including labour markets, markets for corporate finance, the system of skill formation, and inter‐firm collaboration on research and development that reinforce national equilibria and give rise to comparative institutional advantages, notably in the sphere of innovation where LMEs are better placed to sponsor radical innovation and CMEs to sponsor incremental innovation. By linking managerial strategy to national institutions, the volume builds a firm‐centred comparative political economy that can be used to assess the response of firms and governments to the pressures associated with globalization. Its new perspectives on the welfare state emphasize the role of business interests and of economic systems built on general or specific skills in the development of social policy. It explores the relationship between national legal systems, as well as systems of standards setting, and the political economy. The analysis has many implications for economic policy‐making, at national and international levels, in the global age.
Americans now live in a time and a place in which freedom and autonomy are valued above all else and in which expanded opportunities for self-determination are regarded as a sign of the psychological well-being of individuals and the moral well-being of the culture. This article argues that freedom, autonomy, and self-determination can become excessive, and that when that happens, freedom can be experienced as a kind of tyranny. The article further argues that unduly influenced by the ideology of economics and rational-choice theory, modern American society has created an excess of freedom, with resulting increases in people's dissatisfaction with their lives and in clinical depression. One significant task for a future psychology of optimal functioning is to deemphasize individual freedom and to determine which cultural constraints are necessary for people to live meaningful and satisfying lives.
This meta-analytic review of prospective and experimental studies reveals that several accepted risk factors for eating pathology have not received empirical support (e.g., sexual abuse) or have received contradictory support (e.g., dieting). There was consistent support for less-accepted risk factors(e.g., thin-ideal internalization) as well as emerging evidence for variables that potentiate and mitigate the effects of risk factors(e.g., social support) and factors that predict eating pathology maintenance(e.g., negative affect). In addition, certain multivariate etiologic and maintenance models received preliminary support. However, the predictive power of individual risk and maintenance factors was limited, suggesting it will be important to search for additional risk and maintenance factors, develop more comprehensive multivariate models, and address methodological limitations that attenuate effects.
There is much debate about the state of the world. Matt Ridley argues in The Rational Optimist that we can solve problems such as economic crashes,population explosions, climate change and terrorism, of poverty, AIDS, depression and obesity. His trust of capitalism and progress is examined and challenged in this book review.
Governments across the world seek to promote a better life for their citizens, but thus far scholars have provided contradictory advice. While some argue that economic growth leads to higher subjective well-being, and others argue that it does not, we are the first to specify two conditions that make economic growth compatible with subjective well-being over time: increasing social trust and declining income inequality. Our methodological contribution is to combine micro- and macro-level data from a large sample of developing, transition, and developed countries and to explicitly distinguish the cross-country differences from the changes over time. We perform a multilevel analysis of harmonized data composed of the World Values Survey, the European Values Study, and macro-level indicators of economic growth and income inequality for 46 countries, observed from 1981 to 2012. Our results show that in the long run economic growth improves subjective well-being when social trust does not decline and, in richer countries, when income inequality reduces. These results are compatible with the recommendation that, to pursue durable improvements in people’s subjective well-being, policy-makers should adopt a ”promote, protect and reduce” policy agenda: promote economic growth, protect and promote social trust, and reduce income inequality.