Does television viewership play a role in the perception of quality of life?

M. Joseph Sirgy, Dong Jin Lee, Rustan Kosenko, H. Lee Meadow, Don Rahtz, Muris Cicic, Guang Xi Jin, Duygun Yarsuvat, David L. Blenkhom, Newell Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


The authors hypothesized that television viewership influences materialism and dissatisfaction with standard of living, which in turn contributes to feelings of dissatisfaction with life. They collected data from five countries to examine the issue in a variety of cultural and media environments. The countries and types of samples were: United States (consumer panel and college students), Canada (urban households), Australia (urban households), Turkey (urban households), and China (urban households). The results were generally consistent with the hypotheses. However, most of the support came from the U.S. samples. Two possible explanations may account for the findings. One is that the effect of television viewership on life satisfaction is a unique phenomenon that is applicable only to the United States. Given the disparity of viewership levels between the U.S. and other countries, that explanation has some face validity. The other is that the effects were less evident in non-U.S. samples because of methodological limitations of the cross-cultural research. Overall, the results show that television viewership, at least in the U.S., may play a significant role in making people unhappy with their lives. Much of television advertising reinforces material consumption and possession with images of the “good life.” Thus, television advertising contributes to terminal materialism—materialism for the sake of materialism. Socially responsible advertising professionals should make a concerted effort to create messages that reflect instrumental materialism—materialism for the sake of meeting essential and basic needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
H7 posits the effect of TV viewership on materialism. The LISREL results in Table 5 show that as hypothesized, materialism is positively predicted by TV viewership (pooled estimate=.l04, p<.05). However, the regression estimates across the individual samples show that the hypothesized relationship is supported by data from the pooled, Chinese, Australian, and U.S. panel samples, but not by data from the Turkish, Canadian, and U.S. student samples.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Communication
  • Marketing


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