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Identity related meanings of possessions in adolescence.

Alexandratou, Georgia; (1998) Identity related meanings of possessions in adolescence. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the ways in which adolescents relate to material possessions with the assumption that material possessions are used by adolescents to express their own and to make inferences about others' identity. In chapter one, the literature on identity formation in adolescence is reviewed focusing on Erikson's psychoanalytic theory and Marcia's conceptualisation of identity statuses. In addition, a review of issues concerning adolescents' consumer behaviour and response to advertising is provided. Particular emphasis is given to theories and research on meanings attached to possessions, the use of possessions in self-definition and person perception and the relevance of material wealth in personality evaluation. Moreover, cultural and gender differences are highlighted. Three studies were conducted to test a series of hypotheses derived from these themes. In study one, the link between identity formation, patterns of consumer behaviour and response to advertising is explored, providing some evidence that shopping and advertisements are used by adolescents across gender and culture for similar functions in the formation of personal identity. Study two concerns the meanings of treasured possessions. The findings confirm that the categories of possessions treasured by adolescents and the meanings attached to them parallel the tasks of adolescence, the most important of all being the development of an autonomous identity. Cultural and gender differences indicate that the meanings of material possessions can be analysed as material symbols of major identity dimensions such as gender and culture. Further, identity and materialism moderate differences in the way in which adolescents relate to material possessions. The third study explores the use of possessional cues in self-definition and person perception. The findings demonstrate that adolescents predominantly use behavioural cues in self-definition and person perception. Material wealth, on the other hand, moderates cultural, gender and materialism differences in personality evaluations and dominant representations are prevalent. Overall, the three studies indicate that material possessions are linked to the development of emerging adolescent identity. The final chapter discusses the findings and the limitations of the thesis, drawing out possible implications for future research.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Identity related meanings of possessions in adolescence.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103869
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