Materialistic people use Facebook more frequently and intensely, treat their online friends as "digital objects" and feel a greater need to compare themselves to their peers on the social networking website, scientists say.
The research also found that they have more friends than people who are less interested in possessions.
Materialistic people use Facebook to both achieve their goals and feel good, according to the study.
"Materialistic people use Facebook more frequently because they tend to objectify their Facebook friends - they acquire Facebook friends to increase their possession," Phillip Ozimek, from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.
"Facebook provides the perfect platform for social comparisons, with millions of profiles and information about people. And it's free - materialists love tools that do not cost money!" said Ozimek.
Researchers first conducted an online questionnaire with 242 Facebook users. The questionnaire asked participants to rate their agreement with statements in order to calculate their Facebook activity, the tendency for social comparison, materialism, objectification and instrumentalisation of Facebook friends.
The results suggested that the link between materialism and Facebook activity can be partly explained by materialists displaying a stronger social comparison orientation, having more Facebook friends, and objectifying and instrumentalising their friends more intensely.
Researchers replicated the approach with a separate sample of 289 Facebook users, containing fewer students and more males than the first sample, and they reached the same conclusions.
The Social Online Self-Regulation Theory they developed extends this further, saying that social media is a tool for achieving important goals in life.
For materialists, Facebook is a tool to learn how far away they are from their goal to become wealthy.
The researchers emphasise that their results should not cast social media in a negative light; instead, they assume people use platforms like Facebook to feel good, have fun and achieve their goals.
"Social media platforms are not that different from other activities in life - they are functional tools for people who want to attain goals in life, and some might have negative consequences for them or society," Ozimek said.
"We found that materialists instrumentalise their friends, but they also attain their goal to compare themselves to others," he said.