Sunday, February 08, 2009

Economy Got You Down? Buy An $8 Chocolate Bar For A Little "Compensatory Consumption"

Doing this can help you regain status after getting laid off. Go to The Sweet Payoff. Don't confuse this with "Conspicuous Consumption" (consumption undertaken to make a statement to others about one's class or accomplishments)

Here are is an exerpt:

"Derek Rucker and Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University have lately been exploring the relationship between feelings of powerlessness and what they term “compensatory consumption.”

In one experiment, subjects were divided into two groups and told to reflect on an incident in which they felt powerful or on one in which they felt powerless. Each group was then given a supposedly unrelated task that involved gauging how much each participant would be willing to pay for a variety of products. For items that carry little association with status — a ballpoint pen, a sofa, etc. — there wasn’t much difference between what the two groups would pay. But subjects who had put themselves in a powerless frame of mind were willing to pay measurably more than the other group for high-status items — an executive pen, a fur coat, a silk tie. In a more recent study, Rucker and Galinsky found that individuals who felt less powerful showed a preference for clothing with larger and more conspicuous luxury logos.

Their thinking is that the little boost of, say, pricey chocolate, might not be solely about mood but about responding to threats to status or competence, Rucker told me. Ideally you would respond to such challenges directly: standing up to a boss who is pushing you around, demonstrating skill to silence skeptics and so on. But often the sources of undermined confidence are more abstract. “What’s happened in modern society under capitalism is that people have found consumer products as an outlet, a safety valve for addressing these threats in a very indirect fashion,” Rucker contends."


Anonymous said...

I must say that this excerpt is quite interesting. I must be very powerful, on the account I live a simple life. High Priced items are just not important to me & neither is the status quo.

Do you actually have an opinion one way or the other?

Cyril Morong said...

There might be something to this idea of "Compensatory Consumption." But I think more research needs to be done to confirm it. It does sound plausible.