The benefits of advertising status : what conspicuous consumption buys women
The primary objectives of the current research were to (1) test the effectiveness of conspicuous consumption as a status-enhancement tactic and (2) examine access to material resources as an interpersonal benefit that incentivizes status striving behavior. The studies that follow investigated the status striving motivations of both men and women; however, this research endeavor was primarily designed to address the paucity of research on female status. In Study 1, a nation-wide sample of participants perceived target women to be higher status when they were depicted conspicuously consuming than when not. Several individual difference variables that predict conspicuous consumption were also identified, many of which related to the attainment of high status. In Studies 2 and 3, conspicuous consumption was shown to increase perceptions of status in face-to-face interactions, further supporting the status signaling function of conspicuous consumption. Study 3 utilized a Dictator Game methodology to test the prediction that participants would share more of a monetary allotment with confederates who were conspicuously consuming than with those who were not. Results indicated that conspicuous consumption did not increase generosity except in male participants who shared more of a monetary allotment with conspicuous consumers, particularly those of the same sex. This sex-specific result is discussed in light of the possibility that conspicuous consumption signals a type of status that is particularly relevant to men (i.e., economic status). In conclusion, I consider the different pathways by which high status individuals receive increased access to resources.