The value of socially extrinsic vs. intrinsic outcomes: An exploration of Americans from 1974 to 1994

John F. Stolte1
1Northern Illinois University, United States
Cite this article:  Stolte, J. F. (2000). The value of socially extrinsic vs. intrinsic outcomes: An exploration of Americans from 1974 to 1994. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 28(4), 387-392.

Volume 28 Issue 4 | e1037 | Published: August 2000 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2000.28.4.387

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Stimulated by a recent exchange theory of value (Emerson, 1987; Stolte, 1998), the research reported here used archived data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey (GSS) to examine 1974-1994 trends in the value placed by Americans on socially extrinsic vs. intrinsic outcomes of exchange. The data show an increase in the value placed on socially extrinsic outcomes (specifically income) and a decrease in the value placed on socially intrinsic outcomes (specifically those mediated by marriage, kin contact, neighborly interaction, fraternal, and church group membership). These trends raise questions about a possible imbalance in the pursuit of extrinsic over intrinsic outcomes, and possible deleterious social psychological consequences. While the present results are exploratory and highly provisional, they strongly encourage further research aimed at answering these questions.

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