People who can afford luxury goods tend to buy them, and to show them off. “This is unsurprising given the myriad social benefits associated with being perceived as well-off and high status,” note the authors of a new study, led by Shalena Srna at the University of Michigan. But in some situations, there might be downsides to conspicuous consumption. After all, as the team writes: “it conveys a boastful self-interest, which is incompatible, in people’s minds, with pro-sociality”.
So what happens when — as is so often the case — it’s in our interests to work with others? Given the opportunity, do we show off, and signal high status — or do we choose to be more modest? Continue reading →