Are you what you have?

Helga Dittmar on consumer society and its effects on our sense of identity.
Imagine I gave you a list of attributes that describe a person – friendly, unique, assertive, self-reliant – and then asked you to judge whether having each of these qualities is either intrinsic to a person or in any way related to material factors, such as what they own and how they dress. You would probably tell me that these are all aspects of a person’s identity that are not influenced by material context – and thus find yourself in agreement with respondents in one of my studies (Dittmar, 1992b). But you would be wrong.

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber