Carrying a $10,000 Birkin bag by Hermès will make you the envy of your friends. It could also help you snag a higher salary and better job recommendations.
Rob Nelissen and Marijn Meijers, social psychologists at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, conducted a series of experiments to test whether designer labels affect how we perceive people. In one experiment, participants rated strangers wearing Lacoste or Tommy Hilfiger polo shirts as wealthier and higher status than people wearing unbranded polos. In another, strangers were more likely to donate to charity if the person collecting donations wore a sweater with a designer logo.
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The research, which will be published in the forthcoming issue of Evolution and Human Behavior, suggests that fashion impacts our earning potential, too. Nelissen and Meijers showed volunteers one of two videos of the same man being interviewed for a job. In one video his shirt featured a logo and in the other it didn’t. Volunteers rated him more suitable for the position, and suggested he earn 9% more, when a conspicuous logo was present.
“The present data suggest that luxury consumption can be a profitable social strategy because conspicuous displays of luxury qualify as a costly signaling trait that elicits status-dependent favorable treatment in human social interactions,” the authors write. Wheeling around your Louis Vuitton suitcase doesn’t just make you look better. It makes people want to treat you better, too. (via the Economist)
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