You’ve got the Ferrari. You’ve got the Rolex. You’ve got the bank account to rival a Russian yacht collector; but do you have any real friends?
That’s the question researchers from the University of Michigan and Singapore wanted to find out, so they conducted their own studies. The general consensus is that rolling around in a nice car or rocking expensive brands will cause people to turn their heads and give you more attention.
It’s the very same lofty status symbol which often influences others into aligning with your opinion or wishes – think personalities like Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump who have championed this to great effect. There’s a slight difference to gaining attention and making new friends, though.
During the study the researchers posed a hypothetical situation to participants: If they owned both a standard car and a luxury car, which one would they drive to a wedding reception to make new friends?
A solid 66 percent of participants chose the luxury car as an effective means of attracting new friends.
The question was then flipped to a different group of participants run by different researchers: Imagine being at a wedding reception where they noticed a person rolling up in either a standard car or a luxury car. Which person would they be more interested in becoming friends with?
The subjects opted for the person in the standard car as opposed to a luxury car.
The study’s take away concludes that whilst people think that a high status symbol through a means of driving a luxury car will enhance their friendship circle, it in actual fact causes potential friends to be deterred.
Need proof? Check out some of the comments on Floyd Mayweather’s latest Instagram ‘flex’ posts.
From pyrex908: “Seems lonely at the top”
From coltencharles: “dude looks so bored lol”
From basketballstudios: “Materialism is to hide insecurities, I feel for this man”
This is a concept which the researchers Stephen Garcia, Kimberlee Weaver and Patricia Chen call the “Status Signals Paradox”, an effect which has also been proven in case studies beyond just cars. One particular study looked at the effect of expensive wristwatches.
Based on a similar study model, participants were asked what kind of watch they’d wear to a social event with most opting for a pricier TAG Heuer piece over a cheaper generic watch. A separate group was then asked who they’d more likely want to be friends with at the social event.
The participants once again opted for the person wearing a cheaper watch over the expensive watch purveyor.
According to Garcia, psychologists boil this down to the “difference in perspective in social comparison”.
“When we are deciding what to wear, we are in ‘presenting roles’ where want to put our best foot forward, so to speak; we want to look better than others,” Garcia explained in Psychology Today.
“However, we do not take the perspective of the would-be friends. They too would also like to look good and do not want to be out-shined by others. In other words, while we want to compare favourably to others in our appearance, we do not realise that others also want to compare favourably too – or at least not be overshadowed.”
So what’s a high status man with a penchant for designer labels, expensive watches and flashy cars to do?
The study simply says to be aware that it could harm your chances of making new friends dow the line.
The more profound question is, who needs friends when you have two million followers?