People reporting their status seem interested
People may forego displaying luxury brands and other status signs when they want to convince others that they will work well with a team, because people who signal their wealth and social status might be perceived as uncooperative , according to a study published by the American Psychological Association. .
Although studies have shown that people who appear affluent tend to be seen as more intelligent, disciplined and competent than those who are not, research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people believe that someone who displays their social status cares more about their own interests than helping others and is less willing to collaborate with them.
“It is generally assumed that signage status can strategically benefit people who want to appear premium – otherwise why would people pay a premium for products with luxury logos that have no other functional benefit? But that can also backfire by making them seem more self-serving,” said lead researcher Shalena Srna, PhD, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “In social situations that depend on cooperation, people often choose to present themselves more modestly.”
In six experiments, researchers recruited more than 2,800 participants online and in academic behavioral labs across the Midwest and Northeast United States to measure how people respond to others reporting their status and to examine the choices people make about whether or not to report their status.
In one experiment, 395 online participants were asked to rate social media profiles to find cooperative, selfless, and generous people to join their community. Participants were then randomly assigned to view either a modest social media profile with neutral messages (e.g., “I saw the cutest puppy today! #goldenretrievers”) or a profile aimed at reporting a high social status. The status signage profile contained the same neutral language as the first, but also included messages about luxury cars, clothes, food, or travel (e.g., “On the way to Madrid! #first class #luxury “).
Researchers found that participants who viewed the social media profile with status flag messages were less likely to recommend that person to be in their group than participants who viewed the neutral profile. They also rated the person profiled as wealthier, more concerned about their status, and less likely to care about others.
In another experiment, 1,345 participants from behavioral labs at three US universities were asked to imagine that they were creating their own social media profile and had to choose what to wear for their profile picture. Participants were told they were trying to get selected for an online group, but only half of the participants were told that the group they hoped to join was looking for someone extremely cooperative. They were then given the choice of appearing in luxury brand clothing such as Prada or Gucci, non-luxury brand clothing such as Sketchers or Old Navy, or unbranded clothing.
Participants who were trying to come across as a cooperative team player were significantly less likely to choose to wear luxury clothing in their profile picture than those who weren’t. But people were also likely to choose to wear a non-luxury brand whether or not the co-op was highlighted, the researchers found.
“This experience shows that people are aware of when the value of luxury logos shifts from positive to negative,” according to Srna. “Not only are people strategic about when to signal their status, they’re also strategic about modesty.”
Modesty can be key when cooperation is key, according to Srna, but the researchers also found that, in some cases, status signaling has benefits. While participants were less likely to choose someone who signals their wealth or status to join a group looking for cooperative members, they were more likely to choose this person when told the group was looking for a member. competitive team.
These results suggest that people will change the way they present themselves based on their social purpose. This is especially important to consider in the age of social media, where people can easily share their wealth and status with large audiences.
“Posting about your luxury purchases and expensive vacations on Instagram or TikTok can help you persuade others, intimidate competitors and succeed in the dating market – at least for men – but it could also signal to potential friends or to future employers that you’re unlikely to think about the needs of others,” Srna said. “It becomes a tricky balancing act for people who want to impress others while demonstrating they can be a ‘player. team “.”