The truth is that flashy items do make you the topic of conversation and put you in the spotlight, briefly. But do flashy status symbols really help you attract new friends? Most of us believe that the answer is yes. However, science shows something different.
Researchers calls this belief that luxury status symbols attract new people and friendships “The Status Signals Paradox.” When researchers created two control groups and asked participants in Group A: if they are going out to a social event with the hope of meeting new friends do they imagine themselves driving a basic car or a luxury vehicle? It’s no surprise, that majority of Group A, 66 percent, chose to take a luxury car. Most of the participants believed that the luxury car would help them attract and make more new friends.
Here is where the study gets interesting. The researchers then asked Group B participants to imagine going to the same event as group A. But group B was asked to choose the people they would be interested in initiating a friendship with based on the car in which they arrived.
Results showed that the Group B friend seekers were more interested in becoming friends with people that drove basic cars than the people driving luxury cars.
The conclusion: most people think that luxury status symbols increase friendship interest but in reality, it’s just the opposite. People are less interested in pursuing a friendship with you and your luxury items when given the choice. They feel pressured by your status symbol and may even resent being in your perceived shadow.
Out of the Luxury Paradox
There you have it. It looks like we officially have the green light to move past the twisted and shallow social psychology of buying expensive things to impress people. We finally have permission (backed by data) to let ourselves and our friends off the financial hook. We get to tell our friends it’s more impressive to have a six-month emergency fund, retirement accounts automatically being maxed for the year, investment accounts, no credit card debt and a mortgage with extra principle payments being applied every month than the latest Hermes bag or Gucci socks (I actually know someone who recently purchased these).
Remember, it is a fight to build wealth, no matter where you are in the process. Everything around us conspires to take money out of our hands. But you must fight the good fight. Continue to save, invest and grow your net worth even when it seems impossible.
Save your pennies (copper) until they become dollars (cotton)!