A dark side of the American dream: correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1993 Aug;65(2):410-22. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.65.2.410.


Aspiring for financial success is an important aspect of capitalist cultures. Three studies examine the hypothesis that values and expectancies for wealth and money are negatively associated with adjustment and well-being when they are more central to an individual than other self-relevant values and expectancies. Studies 1 and 2 use 2 methods to show that the relative centrality of money-related values and expectancies is negatively related to college students' well-being and mental health. Study 3, using a heterogeneous noncollege sample, extends these findings by showing that a high centrality of aspirations for financial success is associated with interview ratings of lower global adjustment and social productivity and more behavioral disorders. Discussion is focused on the deleterious consequences of materialistic world views and the need to examine differential effects of content regarding goals and values.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspirations, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States